Inquest into death of man who drove naked through Leighton Buzzard

Nathan Barlow
Nathan Barlow

A young dad-to-be took his own life by ingesting a massive overdose of morphine, an inquest has concluded.

Apprentice Nathan Barlow, 20, left home on November 26 last year to walk in the fields near his home in Hartwell Crescent, Leighton Buzzard.

The young man phoned his mum lying in the field off Stanbridge Road, having already taken the lethal dose.

As his mum, Sarah Jane Neale, rushed to contact emergency services, Nathan switched off his phone.

His body was found by police three days later, lying in the field with a knife in his hand.

At Thursday’s inquest at Ampthill, Mrs Neale fought back tears as she described her last day with her son, who was depressed after breaking up with his pregnant girlfriend.

She said: “It was about two o’clock in the afternoon. He said he was going out for a walk. I had a strange feeling all day. I went upstairs and there were lots of empty tablet packets. I dialled him and asked about the tablets.

“He said; ‘I’m so sorry mum, I can’t take the pain. I’ve took more tablets than I’ve ever taken in my life.’”

Mrs Neale wept as she added: “He was just a normal 20-year-old lad, who wanted what normal 20-year-old lads wanted.”

Nathan, who had attempted an overdose twice as a teenager, had led a troubled history in the months before he died.

On October 19, he was arrested in Bridge Street driving naked on a motorbike through town. He was detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment at Luton and Dunstable Hospital. He was discharged on October 21.

On October 23, Nathan was arrested after climbing on to the roof of his home threatening to throw himself from a chimney.

Police and the fire service were called to bring him down.

On this occasion a referral was made to the mental health crisis team and Nathan saw specialists until he was discharged on November 12 having shown “remarkable improvement”. He was put under the care of the mental health team from Crombie House, Leighton Buzzard, with his next appointment due on November 20 – which he later cancelled.

In a report commissioned by NHS South Essex Partnership Trust, it was noted that beyond a failure to make a referral to the crisis team after he was discharged on October 21, no other failings were noted.

Dr Shah of NHS SEPT, said: “In actual fact the step [detainment under the Mental Health Act] is quite a serious one. Detainment happens when doctors and nurses agree there is no other realistic option.

“It seems Nathan was a risk to himself if he was under the influence of drink or drugs.”

He described the risk as “constant but unpredictable”.

In his closing comment, coroner Tom Osborne said: “Due to his circumstances on 26 November, he’d had a lot to drink, took a huge amount of morphine and I accept the evidence given to me that the medical cause of his death was a fatal morphine toxicity.

“My findings are that Nathan died within hours if not an hour of making a phone call to his mother on 26 November.

“I also find that the steps taken by police when Nathan was reported to them as a missing person was both timely and appropriate.

“I also find that his unfortunate death in my view was probably inevitable. I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Nathan took his own life.”

A cause of death was registered as fatal morphine toxicity as the result of suicide while suffering from a psychiatric illness.