A CORONER has warned of the dangers of heroin at the inquest into the death of a much-loved and popular young man.

Reece Rowland died in his sleep after taking a mixture of heroin and cocaine known as a speedball, the inquest at Brighton Coroner’s Court heard.

Reece was described by friends after he died as a “one-off” who was loved by everyone.

The conclusion of his inquest comes as police renew heroin warnings and continue to investigate the deaths of Reece, another man and a woman linked to the supply of heroin.

The 26-year-old was found dead at his home in Hertford Road, Brighton, on November 21.

The previous evening he had been out with friends drinking in a pub in Hove, his inquest heard, returning home before leaving again to buy drugs, and later texted the same dealer to top up.

When he returned home he watched television on the sofa and fell into a deep sleep, according to officials at the inquest, before suddenly dying due to respiratory problems brought on by the drugs.

Andrew Smith, a clinical scientist at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, told the inquest: “Heroin is incredibly dangerous. It remains the drug that kills more people in Brighton than any other.”

He said as far as alcohol consumption was concerned, Reece’s blood level was at about the drink-drive limit.

Mr Smith said Reece was not a regular user but that tests showed traces of the drugs as far back as the previous May.

He added: “I don’t consider Reece to be in any way, shape or form a heroin addict.

“We all have to accept that people take heroin because they like it. Unfortunately what comes with that is incredible danger. Quite literally, it’s Russian roulette – there can be enormous variations.”

Coroner Catharine Palmer gave a verdict of misadventure.

She said: “We know from a hair strand test that Reece had taken drugs in the past, as a lot of young people do. He just wanted to have a good time.

“Although you are getting X, you might also be getting Y and Z. You don’t really know.”

In summing up, Mrs Palmer added: “In the minds of the family there wasn’t any cause for great concern. He would have just fallen asleep and the natural thing to do when someone has fallen asleep after being out all night is to leave them alone.

“Because Reece was in a very deep sleep he would not have been able to help himself.

“I just hope [no one] will follow Reece’s example in taking this recreational drug because it’s incredibly dangerous.”

Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford of Sussex Police said: "We would support a recent warning by the council's deputy director of health, Dr Peter Wilkinson, that taking heroin in any form is dangerous."


REECE ROWLAND’S sudden death was met with an outpouring of tributes from those who knew him.

After scores of people searched his name on the Argus website, a picture emerged of a bright, much-loved man.

Tom Stevens, a colleague of 26-year-old Reece, said the situation was “still very raw” as he dropped off flowers at Reece’s home the day after his death last November.

The 25-year-old, who lives in Brighton, told The Argus: “Reece was a one-off. He was very unique and everybody loved him. He was very popular. He would go out of his way to talk to you.”

Mr Stevens had known Reece since he was 17.

He added: “He was a very special boy. He was a brilliant kid.”

Reece was a carpenter living locally, and studied at Varndean School.

Others paid tribute to Reece Rowland on Twitter.

Kit Chell, who lives in Brighton, said: “RIP Reece Rowland. An amazing character who brought a smile to everyone’s face. Life is seriously unfair. Devastated is an understatement.”

George Thorpe, who lives in the Five Ways area of Brighton, said: “Can’t get my head around it. RIP Reece Rowland.”

Another friend, Henry Smith, said: “I love you mate, one of a kind.”

On Facebook, his brother Joel described Reece as his best friend and role model.

He wrote at the time: “I really don’t know how I am going to live my life without you in it.”


AS WELL as Reece Rowland’s death, a 32-year-old man was found dead in a flat in Eaton Road, Hove, on December 11.

On January 13 a 20-year-old woman from Brighton died at a property in Greenways, Ovingdean.

In the first case, a 48-year-old Hove man was arrested on suspicion of supplying heroin and has been released on bail until March 10.

In the Greenways case, a 22-year-old Brighton man was arrested on the same allegation and bailed until April 5.

Officers have been unable to trace the source in Reece’s case but all three deaths have been linked to heroin.