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Deal teenager Robert Fraser overdosed on strong painkiller fentanyl, inquest hears

A teenager had been making efforts to turn his life around and had claimed his drug taking was under control.

But Robert Fraser, 18, of St Francis Close, Deal, took a strong pain killer Fentanyl and unintentionally overdosed, an inquest heard.

Former Castle Community College pupil Robert was a known drug user to his friends, and his parents had raised concerns that he was mixing with the wrong crowd.

Robert Fraser
Robert Fraser

Back in 2015 he had unintentionally overdosed on ketamin at a beach party, ending up in William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

"Robert John Fraser was clearly a much loved son and brother.

“He’d started to turn a corner," Assistant Coroner Chris Morrison

But it was believed the keen skateboarder was turning a corner, recently opening a bank account, helping around the house and cooking meals.

On Friday, November 18, he returned home for the first time in four days and nights, having stayed at a friend’s.

The following morning, at about 9.15am, he was discovered unconscious in his bedroom by father Graham Fraser who was about to ask him to walk their dogs.

Assistant coroner Chris Morrison recorded his cause of death as an unintentional overdose of fentanyl - a strong painkiller usually used in hospital or a medical setting, which he had obtained from the streets.

Investigating officer DS Brian Doughty told the Mercury it was the first time in his career he had come across the drug in a case.

Robert Fraser loved skateboarding
Robert Fraser loved skateboarding

As well as a fatal level of fentanyl, pathologists also found MDMA, known as ecstasy, in Robert’s body. It is understood the drugs were given to him during an exchange at Walmer Railway Station earlier that week. It is not known if the fentanyl was paid for or given.

DS Doughty, who attended the scene to investigate, discovered fentanyl in two lines on a Bob Marley book next to Robert. A quantity (0.355g) of the white powder was also found in a bag close by and sent for analysis.

Robert’s friend Luke Douglas had told DS Doughty that Robert had used drugs including MDMA and cocaine since he was 14 and that he thought Robert had a high tolerance to them.

His statement read: “He would take them every two to three days and take a day to recover.”

The friends had taken the drugs earlier in the week. When preparing the fentanyl they saw that it was crystallising which was unusual in comparison to the drugs they usually took, such as MDMA.

Robert Fraser spent a lot of time skateboarding
Robert Fraser spent a lot of time skateboarding

DS Doughty said: “They then all deliberated what to do with the drug and decided to snort it. They also took cannabis.

“They started to feel a head rush, then vomit and overheat.

“Luke told Robert to dispose of the drug they had taken and he thought that he had taken his advice.”

The night before Robert died, he had gone to bed at the same time as his dad and step-mum, Sarah Floyd, at about 11pm.

When his sister, Amy, returned from work she saw his bedroom light was on and popped in to have a catch up.

In evidence supplied to the coroner, she said: “I went in to his room. He was sat on his bed listening to music drinking a blueberry cider. He gave me a raspberry cider.

“We were drinking the cider and talked. I asked him if he’d been taking drugs and he denied it. He said he’d been staying with a friend. He was generally happy.

“He asked me what I wanted for dinner the next day and I said I’d let him know in the morning.

“I left him listening to music on his bed.”

She described her brother as gentle, kind and loving.

DS Doughty said: “I’m not sure that Robert knew what the substance was but I’ve not come across it before.

“Robert took it of his own volition and that was his choice.”

Police are not exploring any third party involvement into the death.

Mr Fraser said: “We spoke about it [his drug use] often and I was trying to get Robert to seek help for it. He said he didn’t need any help for it and that he had it under control.”

Speaking to the Mercury after his son’s inquest at Aberdeen House in Ramsgate on Friday, Mr Fraser added: “It was a tragic accident. Robert was a wonderful caring man and he is missed.”

When giving a verdict of drug related death, Coroner Mr Morrison said: “Robert John Fraser was clearly a much loved son and brother.

“I’ve heard that age 18 he’d had difficulties in his life as many do, but he’d started to turn a corner.

“He was taking MDMA and cannabis a lot and once had a bad reaction to ketamin but according to the evidence I’ve heard, he never used drugs to harm himself.

“Robert was found dead on November 19, 2016 at his home as a result of an unintentional fentanyl overdose.

“The conclusion in this case is drug related.”

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