TRIBUTE has been paid to a heartbroken 31-year-old father who died suddenly last year.

An inquest today (TUesday, August 19) was tolf that Darren Simpson, of Grangetown, Middlesbrough, was found by his brother, Liam, collapsed on the bathroom floor.

Deputy coroner Malcolm Donnelly heard that Mr Simpson suffered from depression and had abused alcohol which had damaged his liver.

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However a pathologist’s report, which the coroner summarised, showed that in fact the amount of alcohol in Mr Simpson’s system was very low at the time of his death.

Instead, the medical evidence showed that Mr Simpson appeared to have choked on his own vomit and he recorded a conclusion that the death was due to natural causes.

After the inquest, which was held at Teesside Magistrates Court in Middlesbrough, Mr Simpson’s mother, Lynda Winward, said she was glad the inquest ended rumours that her son had committed suicide or had been drinking.

She explained that Mr Simpson had suffered from depressive episodes and had at times drunk heavily since he split up from his former partner four years earlier and had very limited access to his daughter, then three.

He had been a heavy plant operator at a metal plant, working 18 days on at a time, and had not drunk in those periods. However in the 18 day periods when he was not working he was often “at a loss” and would drink.

He asked his mother to accompany him to see his GP on Friday, May 31 last year, just days before his death. But, she says, he did not receive any help.

Mrs Winward said: “Some people work to live but Darren was the other way round, he lived to work. He would ask for more shifts so he was doing something he liked and so he was doing something positive but they wouldn’t give them to him.

“He loved being a dad and was finding it hard not to see his daughter and he was happy when he was looking after his nephew too.

“He was so well-liked, there were hundreds of messages praising him on Facebook and at his funeral you couldn’t get in the door. So many people thought so much of him.”

Mrs Simpson, who was surrounded by her family, said she still had many unanswered questions, not least why Mr Simpson had been coughing up blood shortly before his death.

She was also upset that a GP Mr Simpson had visited with his mother shortly before his death in June last year appeared to be “abrupt” and “dismissive” of his plea for help for drink problems. The family were planning to complain to the Ombudsman about the issue.