A man was found dead at home hours after playing on his Xbox with a friend, an inquest has heard.
Simon Lee Shanks was found unresponsive on the sofa at his home in Glebe Road, Loughor, on October 19 last year. The night before the 43-year-old and his friend had stayed up until around midnight to play on an Xbox before his friend went upstairs to bed.
The inquest, held at Swansea Guildhall on Wednesday, heard that the following morning Mr Shanks’ friend had gone downstairs at around 11.40am and found him “still on the sofa, in a sitting position, still clutching the Xbox controller”.
Paramedics and police were called to the property but he was pronounced dead at 12.15pm.
South Wales Police PC Ben Evans told the inquest: “Simon’s friend said that he had not taken any drugs the night before to his knowledge. Simon normally slept on the sofa downstairs.
“Officers did not find any evidence of drug use. There were no signs of a disturbance or forced entry. While Simon’s death was not suspicious it was unexplained.”
As painful as these proceedings are for those who have lost a loved one the lessons that can be learned from inquests can go a long way to saving others’ lives.
The press has a legal right to attend inquests and has a responsibility to report on them as part of their duty to uphold the principle of open justice.
It’s a journalist’s duty to make sure the public understands the reasons why someone has died and to make sure their deaths are not kept secret. An inquest report can also clear up any rumours or suspicion surrounding a person’s death.
But, most importantly of all, an inquest report can draw attention to circumstances which may stop further deaths from happening.
Should journalists shy away from attending inquests then an entire arm of the judicial system is not held to account.
Inquests can often prompt a wider discussion on serious issues, the most recent of these being mental health and suicide.
Editors actively ask and encourage reporters to speak to the family and friends of a person who is the subject of an inquest. Their contributions help us create a clearer picture of the person who died and also provides the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.
Often families do not wish to speak to the press and of course that decision has to be respected. However, as has been seen by many powerful media campaigns, the input of a person’s family and friends can make all the difference in helping to save others.
Without the attendance of the press at inquests questions will remain unanswered and lives will be lost.
Mr Shanks previously began “drinking heavily” and suffered with mental health issues after his relationship broke down however the inquest heard that he had gone “seven years without taking anything”.
A post-mortem report found that Mr Shanks had a thickening of the heart while a toxicology report found “therapeutic levels” of prescribed medication as well as levels of methadone, cocaine, and morphine. The inquest heard that Mr Shanks had also “used or been exposed to” cannabinoids.
Recording a drug-related death conclusion, acting senior coroner for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Colin Phillips said: “He died on October 19, 2020, at Glebe Road in Loughor as a consequence of an unintentional overdose.”