THE death of an Ambleside man and keen athlete was drugs-related, it was concluded at an inquest.

Thirty-seven-year-old Chris Stirling, of Clappersgate, was found unresponsive at his home on the morning of April 29, 2019.

CPR was performed by friends at the scene but he later died at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

At Cockermouth Coroner’s Court, partner Jo Kilkenny paid tribute to Mr Stirling, who was one of the world’s top triathletes.

She said: “Chris was the kindest, gentlest person who would to anything for anyone.

“Amazingly talented at sport and unaware of his self-worth.”

The inquest heard how Mr Stirling, originally from Bristol, had a history of problems with drugs and alcohol, with mum Moira saying he began taking drugs in his mid-teens.

He later attended rehab but, said assistant coroner Craig Smith, substance misuse remained a ‘spectre’ in Mr Stirling’s life.

In 2009 Mr Stirling completed a four-week programme which was apparently successful in detoxing him, and nearly a decade of abstinence followed.

However, Mr Smith said the deceased started drinking again in March 2019 and was experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.

In the following weeks Mr Stirling’s family and friends tried to persuade him to seek help. In April, he visited an alcohol and drug recovery service.

He was admitted as a voluntary patient at the Carleton Clinic in Carlisle on April 14, later being discharged to the Cumbria Crisis Service in Whitehaven, which provides support and accommodation for people suffering mental health crises.

The forensic toxicology report found cocaine and opiates in Mr Stirling’s urine, as well as morphine in his blood in levels ‘associated with fatality’.

The pathologist ruled the ‘respiratory depressant effect’ of the opiate drugs was the ‘most significant’ factor in Mr Stirling’s death.

Mr Smith said: “There is nothing in the evidence that would lead me to find that this was anything other than an accidental overdose in this instance.”

He concluded Mr Stirling’s death was ‘drugs-related’.