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Inquest opens into popular DJ’s drug overdose death

A popular DJ who died at a party suffered a cocaine overdose, a coroner has heard.

Aaron Ritchie, 24, went into a seizure at Prospect Farm, in Greenhill, on November 30, 2012, and died on the way to hospital.

He had been reportedly been drinking in Canterbury earlier that evening.

Aaron Ritchie collapsed and died at a party in Herne Bay
Aaron Ritchie collapsed and died at a party in Herne Bay

During a pre-inquest review of his case at Canterbury Coroners’ Court, coroner Christopher Morris heard that a suction device used by paramedics to clear the airways of someone choking was not working when used on Mr Ritchie.

It will among a number of issues surrounding Mr Ritchie’s death which will be looked into when a full inquest is held in May.

The hearing is scheduled to last three days and will feature witnesses from the ambulance service and police, plus three members of the public who were nearby.

A pathologist and toxicologist, plus an equipment expert from the ambulance service will also be called on to give evidence.

Mr Ritchie’s family, who live in Mickleburgh Hill, Herne Bay, believe there were failings in the police investigation.

Their barrister Una Morris told the court the Independent Police Complaints Commission has already carried out an investigation into the police’s failure to properly investigate his death.

Miss Morris said: “There has already been misconduct proceedings and also civil proceedings will be able to further explore the circumstances of Aaron’s death. We will also need to look at the paramedic’s suction unit which failed.”

Kent Police and the South East Coast Ambulance Service were both legally represented at yesterday’s (Wednesday) pre-inquest review.

Ambulance service barrister Ashley Irons said: “This was a cocaine overdose and I rather think the circumstances of Mr Ritchie’s death are being over-complicated.”

Canterbury magistrates' court. Picture: Tony Flashman
Canterbury magistrates' court. Picture: Tony Flashman

Mr Morris said his inquest would last at least three days and take place in May. He is not going to call a jury to hear it.

“There’s quite a lot of work to do until then as a result of today’s hearing,” Mr Morris said.

“I want time for that to happen and also time for advocates to make submissions and even for another pre-inquest review.”

Mr Morris added that warrants could be issued for three members of the public if they tried to avoid taking part in the proceedings.

The full hearing is likely to take place at Canterbury Crown Court.

Aaron’s parents, John and Linda, attended the hearing. They chose not to speak afterwards. But, when Mr Ritchie died three years ago, his father described him as a one-off.

He said: “Aaron drove us crazy but he loved life. He wasn’t particularly academically gifted but he was really talented with his hands. He was the sort who would go out at two in the morning to help a friend if they needed it.”

Mr Ritchie’s brother Daniel is a top rower who has won silver metals at the Rowing World Championships and narrowly missed out on representing Team GB at the Olympics.

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