A SOLDIER who died suddenly after a night out with friends had taken MDMA, a coroner said at an inquest yesterday.

Gunner Paul Ferguson, 24, had been socialising in Darlington town centre before moving on to his friend’s house on the evening of Friday, August 19 last year.

Police and paramedics were later called to the address where Mr Ferguson was found unresponsive and his friend, Corey Halton, in a “state of distress”.

Giving evidence at the inquest yesterday, detective sergeant Mark Gaines, said: “When the police arrived at the address Paul was deemed to be in cardiac arrest.

“Corey was in some distress but not as bad as Paul. They were both taken to the A and E department at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

“When Paul arrived at hospital it was made clear to us that he was very poorly. The address was then locked down until we could ascertain what was going to happen to him.

“Paul’s condition worsened and he passed away as a result of that in the early hours of August 20.”

DS Gaines added: “Officers attended hospital and spoke to Corey because it was indicated that he was active on his mobile phone earlier in the evening and may have been procuring drugs.

“Unfortunately when that phone was recovered it had been reset to factory settings.”

Rachel Foster, who was at the address in Darlington on August 19 and also gave evidence, said Mr Halton offered her pills in a clear plastic bag which she refused.

She added that her friend also refused the pills, but that Gnr Ferguson took the tablets, as did Mr Halton.

However, Mr Halton denied this claim. He said he did not take pills into the house, nor did he offer any pills to anybody else.

Adding that he could “barely remember the night” and didn’t know how MDMA came to be in his system.

Mr Ferguson’s mother, who broke down in tears during the hearing, said she had lost the light in her life.

Senior Assistant Coroner Crispin Oliver, said: “Paul died as a result of the toxic effects of MDMA.

“I have found that Paul took MDMA on August 19. I would add that I don’t think it was forced upon him, and I don’t believe it was something he took involuntarily.

“He took it and he knew what he was taking.

“Paul was not a drug addict and was clearly a much loved person in a very worthwhile job.

“Given that this was something that he took although he clearly did not intend to die, I am going to rule death by misadventure.”