A FATHER of three died after taking an overdose of heroin, an inquest heard.

Stephen Spriggs, 40, was found dead at his home in Stanford Avenue, Brighton, on July 27.

He had a history of self-harm, alcohol addiction and regularly used crack cocaine.

His partner, Lilian France, paid tribute to him.

She said: “He was a good man. He had an insane humour, he made me laugh, really laugh, it would hurt.

“Now Stephen has gone, as much as I miss him, I’m glad he is now free from further suffering.”

She said Mr Spriggs and his dog, Bessie, had been devoted to each other.

“We were like the family we never really had the chance to have,” she added.

The inquest in Brighton last week heard Mr Spriggs had been using heroin with a friend called Lee, whose surname was not given in court, on the day of his death.

Lee called an ambulance at about 2.45pm when he discovered Mr Spriggs had stopped breathing.

Paramedics said Lee had been under the influence of alcohol when he called because he seemed “muddled” about the situation.

They said the house was “chaotic” when they arrived.

Police attended the scene and said they found needles around the flat which Mr Spriggs would have used to inject heroin.

Medical records show he had taken a deliberate drug overdose in February but had been discharged from Mill View Hospital in Hove shortly afterwards.

Mr Spriggs suffered from pancreatitis and it had been reported that he suffered from anxiety and felt overwhelmed by events in his life.

He had discussed the impact of drug use on his mental health with doctors but later failed to attend follow-up appointments, the court heard.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said the cause of death was heroin toxicity.

She said there was also evidence of cocaine in his blood and other drugs.

She said: “His death wasn’t deliberate. I think he wanted to live and to do it again. He seemed to be a kind-hearted man who sadly lost his way.”

She said his type-one diabetes and emotionally unstable personality disorder were contributing factors to his death.

His partner, Ms France, swore at the coroner in an emotional outburst before walking out of the court. The police were called when she began screaming outside.