A FIT and determined man who died on Helvellyn had taken lethal doses of prescription medication to overcome chronic pain caused by arthritis, a coroner ruled.

Relatives of Mark Laughton, a 59-year-old father and grandfather, remembered a private man who was “always active” and “loved being outdoors”.

Mr Laughton, a builder by trade, was very fit and his hobbies included walking, hiking and camping.

In latter years he suffered badly with arthritis, receiving regular injections and being prescribed medication for severe pain. He also had trouble sleeping throughout his life, and had bouts of insomnia.

But his active lifestyle continued.

“It wasn’t uncommon for dad to go away without informing anyone, either up to the Lakes or to Europe,” his children said in a statement read to a Cockermouth Coroners’ Court inquest.

One family member told the hearing: “He didn’t let the pain stop him.”

On 28th December, a walker using a track linking Thirlmere’s Swirls car park to Helvellyn summit called 999. He had found Mr Laughton unresponsive, slumped beside some rocks in a sitting position.

There were no signs of physical injury and although weather conditions were unpleasant, with strong winds, Mr Laughton was wearing suitable clothing, and carrying emergency equipment with spare food and drink.

Keswick mountain rescuers, including a team doctor, attended the scene. A defibrillator shock was administered along with CPR and intravenous drugs. But there was no response and Mr Laughton was pronounced dead on the fell.

A post mortem showed death was due to drug intoxication. Toxicology tests revealed the presence of sleeping pill zopiclone and a painkiller, oxycodone, in quantities associated with previous fatalities.

In 2017, Mr Laughton, of Horsforth, near Leeds, had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis which affected his hands, knees and feet. He was previously prescribed zopiclone but later advised by medical professionals to stop using it as they believed this was not beneficial in the long term. The inquest heard he had latterly been buying the drug from abroad having not appeared to find an NHS pain clinic helpful.

Reaching a conclusion of death by misadventure, Ms Taylor found it very likely that “determined” Mr Laughton had self-medicated to control pain so he could walk in the Lakes. “So that he could be his old, physical, active self,” she said. “So he could achieve the physical goal he had set out with that day.”

The coroner told Mr Laughton’s family: “I’m just so sorry you have lost him.”