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Manchester trainee chef hanged himself to have ‘last word’

A trainee chef who suffered severe mood swings due to his frequent cannabis use accidentally hanged himself, an inquest heard.

Sean Russell, 18, had been smoking the drug since he was 15 but it resulted in him becoming increasingly volatile and argumentative with his family.

His father, John, had ‘counselled’ him about his drug use in the week before his death and admitted to having arguments with Sean about his drug taking.

Following another row about his cannabis use in the family kitchen on June 7, Sean stormed off to his bedroom. 

He was found hanged the following day by his mother who had gone into his room to tell him he had to go to work.

His father said: ‘Maybe he thought if he banged I would come in and find him. Maybe he misjudged it because I was asleep and didn’t hear him. It’s a question I’ve asked myself.

‘I do believe that it was an accident. I think he was doing this for attention.’

Sean Russell, 18, had been smoking cannabis since he was 15, an inquest heard. It led to him becoming increasingly volatile and argumentative with his family

Sean's father, John, said his moods were 'definitely linked to the use of cannabis or cocaine'

Sean's father, John, said his moods were 'definitely linked to the use of cannabis or cocaine'

Sean’s father, John, said his moods were ‘definitely linked to the use of cannabis or cocaine’ 

At the inquest in Heywood, in Greater Manchester, Sean’s father spoke about his battle to wean his son off cannabis.

He told the inquest: ‘I was aware Sean used recreational drugs. I knew he smoked cannabis and I knew when he was in the kitchen he would use cocaine as well.  

‘I didn’t want to be over the top because I knew a lot were doing it but I said it’s not something you should be doing a lot to be honest. He seemed to take that in, he said “yes ok” and he seemed to take it on board.    

‘But towards the end he was weird, sometimes he could go from one mood to another in the space of an hour or so and back again within the same day. He could be volatile.

‘I think his moods were definitely linked to the use of cannabis or cocaine and I told him he was smoking too much cannabis.

‘That’s what we had most of the arguments about. It was a daily use and I suspected he was smoking more than he said he was. At first I think it started off with his mates at work taking cocaine. He said to me he had a little bit and I suspected it escalated from there and I suspect that’s where a lot of his money was going.

‘A lot of arguments related to his use of cannabis. In the week or so before he passed away I had been counselling him about the use of his drugs and he said he was going to knock it on the head after his birthday.

‘I took it at face value and that was a good thing. He did come to me and said there were times he felt a bit low but I would say: “it’s this you’re smoking, it’s making you depressed, you need to cut it down at least. If you’re not prepared to stop, then cut down.'”

Sean's father said his son stormed off to his room after another argument about his drug use

Sean’s father said his son stormed off to his room after another argument about his drug use

Mr Russell said the tragedy occurred after an argument he had with Sean over a grill he left on in the kitchen while making toast.

‘I said to him: “you are probably stoned, I can’t trust you” but he threw the food in the bin and said to me “I’m not stoned” and I don’t think he was.

‘We had a bit of an argument and he was being a nuisance and I said you’re going to have to go outside to cool off a bit. He had a bit of a shout, calling me a few names and started banging on the window. He was let in a few minutes later and I heard him go up to his room and heard him banging about.’

The hearing was told Sean was discovered by his mother Joanne as she went in to his room to tell him he had to go work.

Mr Russell said: ‘I never expected in my wildest dreams that day was going to pan out as it did.

‘I never imagined Sean would do something like this. He never gave any clues he would do something of this nature. We had been on him a few times we would get irate but it was just another family argument. He had a strop. I never even thought about it in the morning. I just thought I would go home and see him in a bit and it would be back to normal.

‘It’s a possibility he thought someone might have come in and found him. He might have wanted to scare us.

‘The thing with Sean was he always had to have the last work. Especially with his mum they were alike and they knew how to push each other’s buttons. It was like a game of last word.’

A verdict of misadventure was recorded at the inquest of Sean Russell (pictured)

A verdict of misadventure was recorded at the inquest of Sean Russell (pictured)

Lukasz Tylczynszi, a friend of Sean told the hearing: ‘We used cannabis recreationally but it wasn’t something we did every day. Sean’s biggest passion was cooking he was a chef at a restaurant and was attending college to become a chef.

‘Generally when there was an argument he would go upstairs in his bedroom and lock himself away and generally things would settle. On the day of his death, Sean had been around to my house and he seemed fine. We were happy, laughing and joking and playing games. We made arrangements to meet up the best day. He even said “see you tomorrow bro”.

‘We had not been smoking that night and he had never spoken to me about taking his own life.’ 

Inquiries revealed Sean had two outstanding loans and had received letters about unpaid mobile phone bills.

Toxicologist Julie Evans said traces of cannabis and cocaine were found in Sean’s system. 

She added: ‘Users may experience anxiety and irritability and it has been linked to self harm behaviour. He had used cannabis at some point prior to death but it is not possible to know when he last used it.

‘Some long term users of cannabis can develop psychosis and cannabis and cocaine may have a negative effect in a person’s state of mind. It’s not possible to say how they would have affected him at the time of his death.’

Recording a misadventure verdict, coroner Lisa Hashimi said: ‘There was every chance either of you could have walked into his bedroom at that point and I really believe he knew that. He may have believed mum would have come in to provide comfort as was her usual habit.

‘Sean ad a lot of positive attributes, a lot of friends and work colleagues who through very highly of him. Life is precious at any age, equally none of us ever expect to lose a child and that’s probably the toughest thing for the family and Sean’s parents. I hope you are able to make sense what happened.’

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