A man who made global headlines for trying to have sex with a postbox was found dead only a month later after bingeing on a lethal cocktail of drugs.
Paul Bennett’s death was also caused by an undiagnosed heart problem, an inquest has heard. The 45-year-old was found slumped over a foot-high wall near to Poolstock Lane in Wigan on February 21, a day after he had been discharged from hospital following a drugs overdose.
Assistant coroner Rachel Griffin described his situation as particularly tragic because “he was on the verge of turning his life around.”
Weeks earlier though Mr Bennett had appeared in the national media after a Wigan Magistrates’ Court appearance at which he admitted simulating sex with a pillar box in Scholes precinct.
The hearing at Bolton Coroners’ Court heard that Mr Bennett had lived a chaotic lifestyle with long-term drug and alcohol problems.
He was described as a polite and well-mannered person who had engaged sporadically with drug rehabilitation teams but was also a self-confessed risk-taker.
Step-brother Lee Bennett told the hearing that Mr Bennett had been using drugs since he left school and had been prescribed methadone to help combat a heroin addiction. He added: “He would take anything if something was offered, he wouldn’t turn it down, he had no-way of saying no.”
The court heard that Mr Bennett had been prescribed anti-depressants for six years since his twin brother Michael died.
And in the days leading up to February 21 he had spoken to his GP about increasing the prescription following his conviction for two charges of indecent exposure relating to the post box incident.
Other health experts who had contact with Mr Bennett in his last weeks said he had seemed upbeat and showed no indications of suicidal or self-harming intent.
He had talked of moving into a new property with a friend and of plans to visit a residential rehab centre. Having been admitted to Wigan Infirmary on February 20 and treated for a suspected overdose of heroin and diazepam, he was discharged a day later after a mental health assessment.
Christine Ollerton, a member of the hospital’s Rapid Assessment Interface and Discharge team, said Mr Bennett had been “very polite”, describing his drug problems as “a lifestyle choice”.
He was issued with a two-day dose of methadone as it was the weekend and his pick-up pharmacy would not be open on the Sunday.
A post-mortem examination showed Mr Bennett had a high level of methadone and morphine in his blood, suggesting he had taken heroin.
Ms Griffin recorded a narrative verdict of death through misuse of drugs with a background of naturally occurring heart disease.