An armed robber who carried out a terrifying attack at a County Durham jewellers died after a taking a cocktail of drugs, an inquest heard.

Malcolm Jones, who was 33, was jailed for five years in 2018 after taking part in a raid on B&H Jewellers, a family business in Spennymoor.

Crook Coroners’ Court heard he was released from prison last January and lived in Murton, near Seaham, before his death in Peterlee on August 18.

The Northern Echo: Malcolm Jones.Malcolm Jones. (Image: DURHAM CONSTABULARY)

He was at a friend's house following a party and was found unresponsive on a sofa after being left to ‘sleep off’ drugs he consumed the previous evening.

The court heard emergency services attended and attempted CPR on Mr Jones but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A statement from PC Sarah Button, of Durham Constabulary, said he had taken a suspected overdose.

She said: "Mr Jones was at a house party the night before and had taken an unknown amount of substances."

The court heard a police investigation into Mr Jones' death found there was no third-party involvement.

PC Button said: “He ingested the substances of his own accord.”

A toxicology examination revealed Mr Jones had cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy as well as the psychoactive street drug bromazolam and pregabalin, an anti-epilepsy drug also used as a painkiller, in his system.

The inquest heard Mr Jones had a history of drug abuse and when sentenced for armed robbery at Durham Crown Court he was said to be a heroin addict.

The Northern Echo: B&H Jewellers.B&H Jewellers. (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

He and his accomplice targeted the jewellery shop as the owner was closing for the evening in January 2018.

The jeweller was repeatedly punched, grabbed by the throat and bundled into a back room before he was tied up with duct tape.

The pair made off with £36,000-worth of jewellery and more than £6,000 in cash but were subsequently arrested and jailed in April that year.

The inquest was told Mr Jones received treatment for mental health issues from Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust from July to August 2023 from the psychosis team but denied having plans for suicide or self-harm.

A statement provided by his sister, Ladean Jones, said that he was last seen by his family two days before he died and seemed to be ‘in good spirits’.

She said: "Malcolm lived with his mum for five months after he was released from prison.

“He decided he wanted to be a good father to his daughter and said he was really looking forward to Christmas that year.

“He was thought to have been getting on with his life.”

A post-mortem examination concluded Mr Jones died from acute pneumonia and the inquest was told it was as a result of the combination of drugs in his body.


Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus Digital Subscription for as little as £1.50 a week. Click here.

Coroner Leslie Hamilton concluded Mr Jones’ death was ‘drug-related’.

He said: “Malcolm had a history of using drugs and seemed to be getting his life back on track.

“The drugs that he did take worked together to lead to his death.

“We have nothing to suggest here that Malcolm was trying to take his own life.”