A man who suffered from a rare disease since childhood took his own life after his disability benefits were taken away from him, an inquest heard today.
Oliver Mulford had the rare condition sarcoidosis since he was a toddler and at that time he was only the 19th person in the UK to be diagnosed with it.
Despite these difficulties he had represented England at under-18 level in pool and had dreams of working with animals.
However, a combination of sarcoidosis and chronic juvenile arthritis left the 23-year-old standing just 4ft 8ins tall. He had suffered two bouts of meningitis and underwent trial drug treatment which turned his lethargy, caused by the 1 in 10,000 people condition, into a teenager full of energy.
The coroner heard that in his adult life he had struggled with drug use, depression and the suicide of his best friend.
At the inquest into his death today, Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter came to the conclusion that Mr Mulford had taken his own life.
‘I’m sure it was a great shock,’ Mr Salter said at proceedings, which were attended by Mr Mulford’s mother Gillian, his grandfather and a family friend.
‘He seemed to have turned a bit of a corner,’ said the coroner. ‘In December his benefits were withdrawn. They were reinstated in January however.’
His mother Mrs Mulford said: ‘His biggest issue was money.’
The inquest heard Mr Mulford had been to a job interview at a pub on March 5 of this year at around 3.30 pm after which he sent a harrowing text to his mother.
She told the coroner: ‘He texted me afterwards saying he wanted to kill himself.
‘It was the first time he had threatened to do that. I was shocked, but reassured I could go and see him.
‘I didn’t hear anything back so I went to his flat at about 7pm. When I got there, the light was on in the front room but the rest of the flat was dark.
‘I called the police. They had to break into the flat and he was found hanging in the bathroom. He had a difficult childhood and he was bullied at school. Last year he started to take drugs.
‘He sought help for depression in December and was prescribed anti-depressants. In January we thought he had turned a corner.’
A detailed report on Mr Mulford’s medical history was provided by his GP, Dr Patrick Tan. It highlighted the struggles Oliver had faced in his short life.
‘His life was beset with illness and difficulties,’ said Dr Tan.
‘I saw Mr Mulford in December and he said he had been in a low mood for a few weeks.
‘He had recently developed an addiction to cocaine.
‘He had not been sleeping or eating well. He spoke about suicide but only in vague terms.
‘I prescribed anti-depressants and when I saw him for a follow up he presented well.
‘He had suffered from sarcoidosis from when he was five years old and this resulted in growth problems. Through this he had also developed a fear of needles.
‘In December 2016 he was very upset at the death of his best friend from school, who also hanged himself. When asked about suicidal thoughts Mr Mulford said: ‘After what he has put me through I would not do that to anyone”.’
A toxicology report conducted after his death found evidence of the use of cannabis and cocaine in Mr Mulford’s urine, but this did not indicate use immediately before his death.
Mr Mulford was declared dead by paramedics at his home in Banbury Court, Abingdon, on March 5.
Mr Salter came to the conclusion that Mr Mulford had deliberately taken his own life and so deemed the death a suicide.