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Ben Roffey: Inquest hears Thanet man suffered 'alcohol related death'

By Ellis Stephenson

A mother has paid tribute to a son who "always had a great sense of humour" after he died months before his 40th birthday.

Ben Roffey was found dead in the King George VI Memorial Park, Ramsgate, on February 23.

An inquest held at Margate Magistrates' Court into the 39-year-old's death concluded it was alcohol related.

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Ben Roffey was found dead in a park earlier this year
Ben Roffey was found dead in a park earlier this year

Assistant coroner for north east Kent James Dillon heard evidence from a toxicology report that Ben had so much alcohol in his system that it was the equivalent of him being five times over the drink drive limit.

He then recorded a conclusion of alcohol related death.

Ben's mother, Sonia Cooper, gave evidence at the inquest and said Ben had been happy and joking in the hours which led up to him leaving the house at 11.45pm on Wednesday, Feburary 22.

It was also revealed Mr Roffey, who lived with her at Westover Gardens, Broadstairs, walked for more than 30 minutes to the park where he was found by two dog walkers shortly before 7am the next morning.

They had attempted CPR in an attempt to revive him.

The coroner confirmed that he had been drinking vodka and there was signs of vomit in his mouth and nose.

Ben, who was born in Redhill, Surrey, would have celebrated his 40th birthday in September.

Speaking exclusively to KentOnline after the inquest Mrs Cooper said: "I don't know how we're going to get through his birthday.

"We might do something in his memory but we will just want to remember him then."

Ben, who had two sons, 17-year-old Daniel and 20-year-old Lewis, had lived with Sonia for the last year as he attempted to stay away from alcohol.

"He had promised us on New Year's Eve that he was going to give up drinking and he did for six weeks.

"There are desperate and vulnerable people out there who are looking for help and they just don't know where to find it" - Sonia Cooper

"We went away to London as a few of us in the family had birthdays and he stayed at home.

"After we came back he was down and unwell. He told me he had been back drinking. He was really upset in himself."

Mrs Cooper added she will remember her son as someone who would do anything for anyone.

"Just his sense of humour and the way he used to make people laugh, his friends and family.

"He would offer to fix anything for anyone, he was that kind of person.

"I'll never see him walk back from work again."

Despite Ben approaching the substance abuse help service Turning Point, Sonia believes more needed to be done in the way of giving him the access he needed to counselling.

"Our GP was excellent and they have been since he passed away.

"He needed more counselling support though. What he was offered was a meeting every fortnight but I don't think that's enough.

"There are a lot of people out there who have been dealt a rotten pack of cards and someone needs to help them pick them up."

Asked what she'd say to someone in Ben's position Mrs Cooper said: "I'd say that they need to find out what's making them unhappy and then go and ask for the help.

Ben Roffey at his mother's wedding
Ben Roffey at his mother's wedding

"There are desperate and vulnerable people out there who are looking for help and they just don't know where to find it."

Figures from Kent County Council reveal there are an estimated 68,000 people in Kent with an alcohol dependency. That means that their intake has already harmed their bodies.

Kent has lower figures for deaths from alcohol than national average.

It has also fewer hospital admissions for alcohol specific conditions than the national average.

However, there is a great deal of variation across the county.

From 2013-15, 668 people (under 75-years-old) died from liver disease, most of them were men.

In the same period the number of people who died as a result of alcohol was 681. This is just under the average for the country.

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