Stressed medical student died after taking heroin overdose

Oxfordshire Coroner's Court

Oxfordshire Coroner's Court

First published in

A POSTGRADUATE medical student died from a heroin overdose after he turned to the drug to cope with the stress of his studies, a coroner heard yesterday.

Paul Robertson was conducting pioneering research into Parkinson’s Disease and was just months from being awarded his doctorate when he was found dead at his home in Oxford.

The 26-year-old, who was on a scholarship at Christ Church, suffered from severe anxiety and insomnia due to pressure he put on himself to succeed, an inquest heard.

His girlfriend, Sophie Bocksberger, discovered him slumped in a chair in the bedroom of his Cripley Road flat at 7.30pm, on May 18.

A statement read on her behalf said rigor mortis had set in and there was a used syringe in the academic’s right arm, with a spoon and other drug equipment nearby.

She said: “He placed a lot of pressure on himself and he was something of a perfectionist.

“He had high expectations of himself.”

Miss Bocksberger said she was aware her boyfriend had started using heroin in August last year, but he was not an addict who took the drug every day.

A post mortem examination toxicology test revealed a “very high” morphine level of 1,006mg per litre of blood – almost three times the recognised fatal level.

Alison Thompson, assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, recorded a verdict of a drug related death.

She said: “There is absolutely no suggestion he intended to harm himself. This was clearly an unintended outcome.”

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