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Tragic Folkestone dad's heroin death leads to calls for improvements to addiction services

A Deal councillor has spoken of the tragedy surrounding her brother's death, who died of a heroin overdose.

Ross Dickason, 40, of Hythe Road, Folkestone, was found slumped in his wheelchair by a support worker, just 11 weeks after his leg had been amputated.

His sister, Kingsdown parish councillor Kerry Barnett, said her brother fell into drug addiction when he was just 14 after being abused but despite working hard to get clean for his family, he had fallen back into the dark place of addiction.

Tragic Ross Dickason
Tragic Ross Dickason

The dad-of-two ditched the deadly drug in 2000 and had been clean for over a decade, but after a stint in a South African rehab to kick his cannabis habit, Ross was prescribed a very strong sleeping tablet, Zopiclone, which has similar effects to opiates and fell back into addiction.

Kerry said: "Within months his whole life fell apart from this medication, they were giving him as much as he wanted and he was putting everyone through hell.

"He went to prison and when he came out, he was addicted to just about everything. He lost everything after that his kids, his partner, he was completely out of control."

Shortly after, Ross contracted near-fatal deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot health condition often experienced by heroin users, and his leg was amputated. Less than three months later he was dead.

Kerry added: "He didn’t want to die, he felt guilty and ashamed for everything he put people through.

Heroin paraphernalia. Stock image
Heroin paraphernalia. Stock image

"If Ross was here now and he was able to have a coherent conversation he would be devastated about the mess he has caused. He grew up in an abusive environment, he would never want this.

"The hardest part is that his children do not believe they had a father that loved them, because all they can see is that he chose drugs over them.

"Ross is not blameless at all, but he was a victim of his addictions and the system we put addicts into.

"The mental health teams were amazing with Ross but he needed expert, specific addiction help, not mental health support.

"Instead he was just pumped full of mind-altering drugs and traded one addiction for another. It’s a tragedy and we can’t let tragedies like this continue.”

Cllr Kerry Barnett has spoken of the tragedy surrounding her brothers death
Cllr Kerry Barnett has spoken of the tragedy surrounding her brothers death

Today, at an inquest into his death, Christine Freedman, assistant coroner for South East Kent, recorded a verdict of drug-related death.

A pathologist report revealed he had taken a fatal dose of heroin, cocaine, cannabis and codeine.

Addressing his devastated family at Folkestone Magistrates Court, she said: "I have heard evidence that he was in good spirits before his death, planning for his future and how he was going to cope with his disability.

"It may have been that he took a dose of heroin that was stronger than he realised and it may well have been an accident.

"With this sort of drug no one knows what he was taking and it’s very difficult to know what he was thinking.

"The only conclusion I can draw is that this was a tragic drug related death."

If you’re suffering with an addiction or you are worried about a friend or family member who might be, contact Turning Point on 0300 123 1186 or visit www.turning-point.co.uk.


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