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Sammy Draper, grandfather found dead near Sainsbury's, Maidstone 'wasn't himself' after prison release

The death of a grandfather found dead in woodland near a supermarket has not been ruled as suicide.

Sammy Draper was found dead near Sainsbury's in Maidstone on July 15.

Sammy Draper and his three grandchildren (13926835)
Sammy Draper and his three grandchildren (13926835)

An inquest today heard the father-of-four had been released from HMP Elmley a month before his death and had been referred to the Change Grow Live rehabilitation charity to address his addiction to lighter gas butane.

His body was found hanging and clutching a can of drink in woodland off Romney Place, Maidstone.

His daughter Abbie told the coroner's office: "He wasn't himself after he left prison.

"He didn't tell me what happened while in there but I knew he wasn't himself. He had lost his way and there was no help for him. The probation service was meant to help him but as usual they let him down."

Evidence read during the inquest showed Mr Draper had been attending probation meetings since his release and they had accompanied him to the GP to address any mental health concerns.

'He was the most wonderful dad who was always bubbly and always had a smile on his face' - Abbie Draper

At the meeting it was agreed to up Mr Draper's anti-depressant dosage, however he told his doctor he had no suicidal thoughts as he was focussed on rebuilding his relationship with his children and grandchildren.

Today's inquest heard Mr Draper had struggled with his mental health in recent years following the death of his father in 2016.

But addiction and mental health problems could be traced back as early as 2003.

Two days before his death Mr Draper made a rare visit to his father's grave, the inquest heard.

Mr Draper's sister told the inquest: "Our father was our family's glue, our everything. When he died Sammy was in prison, I don't think he ever really grieved him."

Butane gas cylinders were found in his pocket, up his sleeve and next to his body. A toxicology report revealed he had butane and amphetamine in his system when he died.

No phone and no note were left at the scene, leading assistant coroner Eileen Sproson to give a narrative conclusion.

Ms Sproson told the inquest: "Mr Draper died on July 15 in woodland in Romney Place, Maidstone by hanging, contributed by having inhaled butane gas before his death."

Abbie, 25, paid tribute to her father following his death, saying: "He was just the most wonderful dad who was always bubbly and always had a smile on his face.

"He'd help absolutely anyone he could - if he only had 50p on him but somebody else needed it, he'd give it to them and leave himself with nothing."

If you're struggling, please call Samaritans on 116 123. Find out the different support services available around Kent at tinyurl.com/releasethepressurekent.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone.

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