John Henderson: Drug overdose killed popular West Hampstead book seller, inquest finds
PUBLISHED: 16:40 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:52 28 October 2019
Popular West Hampstead book seller John Henderson died of a drug overdose, an inquest has concluded.
Coroner Dr Richard Brittain found there was evidence of street heroin and alcohol in his blood when he died on May 19.
The inquest at St Pancras Coroners Court heard that he was found propped up against a wall in the Black Path, West Hampstead, just after 7am.
In written evidence to the court, paramedic Jamie Spilsbury said there was nobody else at the scene. He was pronounced dead minutes later.
The court heard that John had previously struggled with addiction to drugs, including cocaine, and alcohol. Dr Brittain said evidence showed that he had managed to kick the habit previously before relapsing.
A pathologist's report also found that the 47-year-old had hepatitis C and liver cirrhosis. He had been due to undergo treatment for his hepatitis when he died.
Dr Dunn, who worked for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, also told the hearing that John had previously had problems with his mental health.
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Dr Dunn said: "He had quite long-term issues with drugs and alcohol use from the early 2000s and it seems that during different periods he had managed to get off them.
"He was happy to bring others for help from Camden and Islington NHS Trust services, but not happy to engage with the services himself."
John, nicknamed "Spider", was a much-loved character in West Hampstead and was well known for his bookstall near West Hampstead Thameslink station. He was often seen by commuters and residents manning the stall with his three-legged dog Sugar. He was born in Glasgow and had moved to London where he lived for most of his life.
Friends left a floral tribute near the site of his stall days after he died, and some 100 people attended his funeral in June.
Dr Brittain determined that John had died from an alcohol- or drug-related death.
John's daughter Rosie Henderson was in court to hear Dr Brittain's determination.
She had spoken to John for the first time in 10 years a week before he died. They had been due to meet but his untimely death came before they had the chance.
Both Rosie and her brother Steven are ambassadors for the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) charity. Well-wishers raised more than £6,000 for it in John's memory in the months after he died.
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