Hanged rugby league player Terry Newton had taken drugs

Image caption,
Terry Newton was serving a two-year doping ban

Cocaine, amphetamines and steroids could have impaired the judgement of rugby league player Terry Newton shortly before he hanged himself, a coroner has said.

The ex-Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos player was found in his loft at his home in Orrell, Wigan, on 26 September.

There were also traces of alcohol in the 31-year-old's system. He had left several notes stating he wanted to die.

Coroner Jennifer Leeming recorded an open verdict.

"I cannot be sure beyond all reasonable doubt that at the time Mr Newton did that act that he had the capacity at the relevant time to form an appropriate intention to end his own life," she told the inquest at Bolton Coroner's Court.

Newton, a hooker, had his contract terminated by Wakefield Trinity in February after being suspended for two years for a positive drug test for a human growth hormone.

The ex-Great Britain international, who started his professional career in 1996, also played for Wigan Warriors, making 186 appreances for them.

Wrists cut

Toxicology reports showed Newton had taken the steroid nandrolone within the week of his death, and traces of cocaine and amphetamine were in his urine, along with alcohol and anti-depressants.

None of the drugs was a direct factor in the cause of death but all could have lowered his mood, the inquest was told.

The father of two young girls became a pub licensee following his ban from the sport.

His wife Stacey and close family members attended the hearing, but she was too upset to give evidence.

A post-mortem examination concluded hanging was the medical cause of death.

There were several recent cuts to both his wrists, measuring up to 4cm, but they were deemed relatively superficial.

Giving evidence, forensic toxicologist Julie Evans said long-term use of certain steroids could change the way the brain deals with moods, with common side-effects being paranoid jealousy, irritability, delusions and impaired judgment.

The inquest was told his family had noticed a change in Newton's behaviour as he started to use drugs other than steroids.

Ms Leeming told the hearing: "In those circumstances the correct conclusion for me to record in law as to the underlying cause of death is an open conclusion.

"I am aware that Mr Newton had indicated that he had hoped to work with the Rugby Football League to warn other sportsmen of the dangers of drugs and, in his death, it is the biggest warning to others.

"His loss is a tragedy to his family and to the community, particularly here in Wigan."

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