A 25-year-old man died days after being arrested for suspected drug driving when he was spotted ‘staggering and bumping into shelves’ at a petrol station, an inquest heard.

Thomas Hudson, who was known as Tom, was found dead by police at his Carterton bedsit on August 5, 2019.

His mother Gillian Hudson raised the alarm after her son failed to respond to phone and text messages the previous day, with officers eventually breaking down the door to the Heather Close property at 5.26am.

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Speaking at an inquest into Mr Hudson’s death at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, she criticised police’s initial response to her and her husband’s concerns.

She said: “It wasn’t taken seriously enough. He was treated as a missing person when all the evidence was that he was at home.”

The production operative, who worked at a quarry in Brize Norton, had been suffering from ‘flu-like symptoms’ of tiredness and muscle pain, according to his parents, in the lead up to his death. His father David said during their last phone call with him at about 4pm on August 3 he’d said: “Dad, I just want to sleep.”

On August 2, Mr Hudson had been arrested at BP Services in Carterton on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after he was seen ‘staggering and bumping into shelves’.

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He was taken to Abingdon police station where Roger Nkomo, a mental health worker from the Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Service, said Mr Hudson had been seen but was not assessed as the man was ‘still under the influence of substances’.

He did note though that Mr Hudson said he did not have any suicidal thoughts.

Mrs Hudson said her son had called her at 11.30pm on August 2 to be picked up from the Abingdon police station and told her he ‘couldn’t remember much’.

It was the last time she saw him, though she spoke with him on the phone the following day when he was still ‘not feeling good’ but said he did not want to go to hospital.

A postmortem report by Dr Eve Fryer, which was read out in court, said Mr Hudson’s immediate cause of death was ‘aspiration of gastric contents’, meaning vomit had become lodged in his airway and he was unable to breath.

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Toxicology findings showed there were low levels of prescribed and non-prescribed drugs in his system, a muscle relaxant and medication used to treat depression, but it was ‘not possible’ to determine exactly what role they played in his death.

These were believed to have been related to his ongoing health problems.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded a conclusion of drug-related death, with the immediate cause aspiration of the gastric contents ‘likely’ triggered by the drugs in his system.

He added, despite previous mental health issues and an attempted overdose in 2016, there was no evidence Mr Hudson had tried to kill himself.

If you are struggling with mental health or need to speak to someone, call the Samaritans on 116 123.