William Helstrip: Prevention of future deaths report

Alcohol, drug and medication related deaths

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Date of report: 19/01/2024

Ref: 2024-0030

Deceased name: William Helstrip

Coroner name: Paul Marks

Coroner Area: East Riding and Hull

Category: Alcohol, drug and medication related deaths

This report is being sent to: Humberside Police

1. [REDACTED], Chief Constable of Humberside Police
I am Professor Paul Marks, Senior Coroner, for the Coroner Area of City of Kingston Upon Hull and the County of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
I make this report under paragraph 7, Schedule 5, of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and regulations 28 and 29 of the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013.
On 30th September 2022 I commenced an investigation into the death of William Steven Helstrip, aged 18 years. The investigation concluded at the end of the inquest on 8th January 2024.

The conclusion of the inquest was: ACCIDENT
These are set out in my summary and findings of facts which are attached.  

William Steven HELSTRIP was found deceased at 5 James Court, Kirkgate, Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire on the 26th of May 2022. He died from the combined effects of various drugs including [REDACTED] which he had sourced from the internet. The drugs led to cardiorespiratory depression and death.
During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern. In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken. In the circumstances it is my statutory duty to report to you.
The MATTERS OF CONCERN are as follows.
The Deceased’s parents informed the attending police officer that Mr Helstrip had been buying drugs from the “Dark Web” and that packages containing these drugs had been sent, recorded delivery, via Royal Mail to his premises. Despite this, the police investigation concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances or third-party involvement surrounding Mr Helstrip’s death and hence no criminal investigation took place. This was based on the attending officer’s impression, which did not appear to take into consideration the information about the sourcing and method of delivery of the drugs. Subsequently, Mr Helstrip’s parents contacted the then Chief Constable of Humberside Police, in 2023 informing him of their concerns about the lack of investigation on the part of the police. A senior investigating officer was then allocated to the case, who looked at the issue of illicit drugs being sent via Royal Mail, by recorded delivery, to see whether the vendor of these substances could be identified and help police with their inquiries. Evidence was heard from this detective, that whilst the investigation is still on-going, time sensitive evidence in the form of CCTV footage from the post office from whence the package was sent, is irretrievably lost, and that this has compromised the identification of the suspect.
In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you and your organisation has the power to take such action.
You are under a duty to respond to this report within 56 days of the date of this report, namely by Friday 15th March 2024. I, the coroner, may extend the period.
Your response must contain details of action taken or proposed to be taken, setting out the timetable for action. Otherwise, you must explain why no action is proposed.
I have sent a copy of my report to the Chief Coroner and to the following Interested Person:  [REDACTED] Mr William Helstrip’s parents. I am also sending a copy to  [REDACTED], Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside.
I am also under a duty to send the Chief Coroner a copy of your response.
The Chief Coroner may publish either or both in a complete or redacted or summary form. He may send a copy of this report to any person who he believes may find it useful or of interest. You may make representations to me, the coroner, at the time of your response, about the release or the publication of your response by the Chief Coroner.
919th January 2024