Doctor who was found dead in Old Buckenham had taken drugs which “could be in levels considered lethal”
PUBLISHED: 13:03 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:03 09 February 2017
A doctor who was found dead in a Norfolk village had methamphetamine in his system which “could be in levels considered lethal”, an inquest heard.
Dr Nadeera De Silva, 34, who lived in Stacksford near Old Buckenham was a clinical researcher at the MRS Cancer Unit linked to the University of Cambridge.
An inquest in Norwich heard this morning how he was reported missing by his partner, Dr Alastair McKelvey on March 7, 2016, after Dr McKelvey returned from a trip to Belfast. Dr De Silva had not been seen for three days.
Area Coroner Yvonne Blake said evidence from colleagues and CCTV showed Dr De Silva arriving for and leaving work before he visited friends in Bedfordshire in the evening of March 4.
She said Dr De Silva was not feeling well and had inhaled and injected drugs, including mephedrone, but had gone home telling friends he was going to sleep.
Ms Blake said the couple’s cleaner, Patricia Jaggard, had visited the home the next morning. She found Dr De Silva’s car in the drive, a window open and a door already unlocked.
Mrs Jaggard sent a text message to Dr McKelvey to check everything was okay, saying she assumed someone was at home in bed. And Dr McKelvey raised his concerns with the police, who did not attend.
However, when Dr McKelvey arrived home on March 7, he found Dr De Silva had not turned up for work and discovered his passport, bank cards and car keys in the house. He then called the police again.
Ms Blake said Dr De Silva’s body was then found on March 10, by a mother and daughter inspecting their paddock in Doe Lane, Old Buckenham.
Dr De Silva was pronounced dead at the scene, with the medical cause of death given as mixed drug toxicity including methamphetamine, in association with hypothermia.
She said: “The police say although it was clear Dr De Silva had been out for his home address, they have no idea where he was and not the postmortem or police investigation have indicated third party involvement.”
A toxicology report by Mark Piper showed there had been drugs in Dr De Silva’s system, including methamphetamine at a level of 832ug/l. The report said this “could be in levels considered lethal, which ranges from 500 to 1000ug/l.”
Giving a conclusion of a drug related death, Ms Blake said: “It’s clear Dr De Silva used these drugs prior to his death. He was out with friends who saw him inject and sniff some drugs. He was obviously a bright and dedicated doctor and was training for something worthy of notice.”
After his death Dr De Silva’s PhD tutor paid tribute to him.
Rebecca Fitzgerald, professor of cancer prevention at the University of Cambridge, said: “He really was a tremendous person. He was very charming. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and no one had a bad word to say about him.
“He had a lovely hearty laugh. I always used to know when he was in the office because his laugh would resonate through the lab.
“It is a mystery why it happened and everyone if very shocked by it.”
Originally from Sri Lanka, Dr De Silva was educated in England.
After completing an undergraduate degree at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, he completed his specialist clinical training in the city.
He was in his third year of PhD study at Caius College when he died.
Dr De Silva had been researching ways to better diagnose cancer in the early stages and the detection of relapses, including determining which treatments certain cancers may be resistant or more susceptible to.
His work centred on cancer of the oesophagus, which Prof Fitzgerald’s department at the MRC Cancer Unit specialised in.
“It was a very interesting field of study and he was getting some good results,” she said.
Prof Fitzgerald said Dr De Silva’s other great love was music.
He was a talented pianist and had played the viola as an undergraduate.
“He was a very talented guy,” she added.