Published: 17:00, 10 January 2018
Two Canterbury musicians found dead in the same house just five days apart had taken a deadly street drug dubbed China White, an inquest has heard.
The bodies of James Truscott, 25, and Maximum Martin, 35, were discovered at the property in Tudor Road, Wincheap.
Post mortem examinations revealed they both had high levels of Fentanyl in their blood, an opiate which is said to be 16 times more powerful than morphine.
Tests revealed Mr Truscott had 72mg of Fentanyl per litre of blood in his system - more than 20 times the fatal level, which a pathologist said could start as low as 3.1mg.
The separate inquest hearings took place one after the other at Canterbury magistrates court today.
Coroner James Dillon was told that Mr Truscott was the first to die on August 24 followed by Mr Martin on August 29. His body was discovered alongside a third man, 22-year-old Joshua Lambert-Price, whose inquest is due to take place on January 24.
All three were familiar faces on the city busking and music scene.
The inquest was told how Mr Truscott, who usually lived in Heaton Road, had been sofa surfing and staying temporarily at the house in Tudor Road where his friend Mr Lambert-Price rented a room.
The most detailed evidence surrounding the circumstances largely came in a statement to police taken at the time from Mr Lambert-Price, who himself was found dead in the same house five days later.
In it he said how he was trying to help his friend get off drugs and “sort himself out”.
“Every time he wanted to take drugs, I told him to have some food,” he said.
He then described finding James sat crossed legged but unconscious in the garden.
“I tried to wake him up but as he was still breathing I moved him into the house.”
Mr Truscott, a former Geoffrey Chaucer School student, was said to have suffered from seizures which usually led him to sleep for many hours.
"Drugs cost Max his life and caused great grief and distress for the family. All we can do is urge people not to do it because ultimately it ruins lives" - Arthur Martin
Mr Lambert-Price said: “I just thought he needed to sleep which is what happened if he went to hospital so I lay him on a mattress.”
But when he next checked on Mr Truscott the following morning, he found him slouched against a wall with an open laptop, which had the residue of white powder on it.
“His eyes were open and I called out and shook him. He did not respond and his lips were white and I couldn’t feel a pulse.”
He tried CPR to revive Mr Truscott while his girlfriend Ayla Price called an ambulance. But paramedics couldn’t save him.
Coroner James Dillion ruled that Mr Truscott's death was “drug related” from illicitly obtained Fentanyl.
He also gave the same ruling in the case of Maximum Martin, who lived in New Dover Road but often visited the house in Tudor Road where he died on August 29.
His body was discovered alongside that of Mr Lambert-Price by a friend after Mr Lambert-Price’s girlfriend had raised the alarm when she could not contact him.
The coroner heard that Mr Martin had a Fentanyl reading of 12mg, which was well in the fatal range.
A police investigation concluded there had been no foul play in the deaths.
Mr Martin’s cousin, Rebecca Martin, who lives in St Dunstan’s, said Max had been a regular drug user, who “found it hard to say no to anything offered to him.”
“He wasn’t stupid but told me he had done a lot of drugs in his life.”
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Martin’s brother, Arthur Martin, who runs an online wholefoods business, warned of the dangers of illicit drug-taking.
“It cost Max his life and has caused great grief and distress for the family”, he said.
“All we can do is urge people not to do it because ultimately it ruins lives.”
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