Mother’s warning over high-strength painkillers after lawyer’s fatal fall in Camden Town

07:00 08 August 2014

William Chapman-Purchas (right)

William Chapman-Purchas (right)


The mother of a lawyer who plunged to his death from a Camden Town balcony believes the effects of heroin-like painkillers were to blame for his fall.

William Chapman-Purchas fell from five storeys up at the Lockhouse flats in Oval Road, Camden Town. Picture: Nigel SuttonWilliam Chapman-Purchas fell from five storeys up at the Lockhouse flats in Oval Road, Camden Town. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Fiona Ligonnet this week warned others to be wary of oxycodone, a high-strength painkiller similar to heroin and morphine, which she suspects contributed to the tragic death of her son William Chapman-Purchas in the early hours of Friday, April 25.

Her comments come after a coroner recorded an open verdict at an inquest last week – but said it was possible that the prescription drug played a part.

The solicitor and property developer, 42, began taking oxycodone just two days before he fell from his mother’s fifth-storey balcony in Oval Road.

She was the first to discover his lifeless body after waking and realising he was not in the flat, yet the front door was chained from the inside.

Although they will never know for certain, the family believe the drugs probably made him disorientated or even caused hallucinations, leading to him going over the edge.

Ms Ligonnet, 73, a retired archaeologist, told the Ham&High: “I feel that these very strong painkillers are doled out a bit too liberally.

“They can have side effects such as drowsiness and disorientation and that’s the only explanation for him falling from the balcony.

“I do think they should only be prescribed under greater supervision.”

Mr Chapman-Purchas, who grew up in Arlington Road, Camden Town, had been prescribed oxycodone and the antidepressant amitriptyline by a private doctor for agonising pain he was suffering due to a severe wrist injury.

He lived in Edinburgh with his wife and four-year-old son, but had been staying in his mother’s living room – which opened out to the balcony – while recovering from an operation on his wrist, which was too delicate to risk a knock on the journey back to Scotland.

The former pupil of St Paul’s Primary School, Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, suffered the injury when a pair of tree loppers snapped while gardening.

Despite his physical torment, Mary Hassell, senior coroner for inner north London, told St Pancras Coroner’s Court that she considered it extremely unlikely that he deliberately jumped from the balcony.

She said the drugs could have been to blame, but that there was not enough evidence to reach any definite conclusion.

His mother said: “William had everything to live for. He had a wife he loved dearly, he had a son that he absolutely adored, and he spoke to them at least three times a day while he was staying with me.

“There is no other explanation, to my mind, other than he reacted in some way to the combination of the drugs.

“If anyone is prescribed oxycodone on its own or with amitriptyline, they should think very, very carefully about whether there is an alternative, or make sure that they’re very carefully supervised when they first start taking it.

“Had the doctor said he may wake up and be disorientated, I probably would have made sure the balcony was locked.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

The London Fire Brigade has put forward proposals to axe 13 fire engines to save £11million

‘While a new website would be welcome, this should not be done at the cost of frontline cuts’ says fire resources committee chief

Yesterday, 18:01
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

The two young men from Kentish Town who left the UK to fight for Islamic State (IS) in Syria are former pupils of Acland Burghley School.

Yesterday, 16:46
The government says the HPV vaccine is safe and will protect against deaths from cervical cancer

East Finchley mother accuses pharmaceutical industry and government of ‘ignoring generation of sick girls’ as European Medicines Agency finds no link between illnesses and cervical cancer jab

Yesterday, 15:58
Carl Ryan, who is charged with misconduct in a public office, outside court (Picture: Central News)

A detective who faked records - including witness statements by Whittington Hospital staff - thwarted three investigations into serious sex assaults, a court heard.

Yesterday, 12:18
Firefighters from West Hampstead were called to tackle the large blaze in Finchley Road - which burned for 72 hours

West Hampstead and Hornsey fire stations could both lose an engine under controversial cost-cutting proposals

Yesterday, 10:04
Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

Two sons of a nursery teacher at a Kentish Town primary school have fled the UK to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Mon, 18:54
Counterfeit Amber Leaf tobacco pouches, fake duty stamps, and other packaging seized during the raid

Warning over danger to public health as illicit tobacco products worth £11,000 taken off streets

Mon, 13:25
Del Cooke, headteacher of Henrietta Barnett School, with pupils in front of the school. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Hampstead Garden Suburb grammar school Henrietta Barnett is once again rated the best all-girls state school in the country in an annual league table published by The Sunday Times.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder