The family of a ‘great lad’ whose life went downhill after he turned 40 will never know exactly what caused his death.
Nicholas Harvey was found dead at his flat in Cheadle Road, Tean, on New Year’s Eve.
The 45-year-old, who was known as Nick, had last been seen alive the previous day when he appeared to have been drinking.
But an inquest heard his body had begun decomposing rapidly by the time he was discovered, which meant a full post-mortem examination couldn’t be carried out.
His father Nicholas, who helped care for him, said his son had not seemed well when he visited the flat on December 30 last year. “He wasn’t very jolly,” he recalled.
After being unable to reach Nick the following day, he became concerned and went round to check on him.
Mr Harvey said: “I walked in the door and he was lying on the settee, gone.”
Pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock said he was only able to carry out an external examination of the body due to safety risks from possible noxious substances.
Quizzed about the cause of death, he said he was initially torn between several options, including recording it as unascertained or linked to obesity.
Nick’s dad mentioned that he had seen some blood on his son’s face and queried whether this could indicate internal bleeding.
The pathologist agreed the ‘most likely’ scenario was some sort of gastric bleed.
The presence of alcohol could have made the decomposition process ‘faster’.
A report from toxicologist Alex Lawson looked at the medication that Nick had been prescribed.
He concluded that if all the pills and alcohol had been taken at the same time, it could have proved toxic.
His brother Dale Harvey said his life had changed after he hit 40. Nick had previously had ‘thousands in the bank’, but then he lost his job.
“Before, he was the one who had loads of girlfriends. He’d always had a woman on his arm,” added Dale.
“Then he went downhill. It was upsetting to see. He piled the weight on.”
Sister-in-law Katie Harvey also paid tribute to Nick. She said: “He was so funny and down to earth. He was so lovely. He was such a great lad. He was brilliant.
“We just couldn’t get him to realise the world was there for him.”
North Staffordshire area coroner Emma Serrano said she was ‘not satisfied’ that his death was due to obesity, alcohol or an overdose.
She added: “We simply don’t know what took his life.”
Ms Serrano recorded a narrative conclusion, saying he had been seen alive the day before he was found deceased.