A Grenfell Tower fire investigator and former Porton Down expert was found dead in his home after overdosing on anti-anxiety medicine, an inquest heard.

James Andrew Breach died at his home in the Flashett, Winterslow, after overdosing on propranolol, a beta-blocker prescribed for anxiety.

The 53-year-old called 999 at 1.15pm on February 13, 2022, to tell the ambulance service that he had taken an overdose.

His call was answered at 1.24pm and paramedics arrived at his home at 2.49pm, almost two hours after he had taken the drugs, but found the father-of-two dead in his lounge.

There is no drug to reverse the heart-slowing effects of propranolol but activated charcoal can absorb the drug if used within one or two hours after ingestion.

An inquest, held on May 23 at Wiltshire and Swindon Coroners Court in Salisbury, heard that Mr Breach had been dealing with a lot of stress leading up to his death, including the breakdown of his marriage. 

Mr Breach’s sister Rebecca Guernero told the court that he was looking to move to a property in the Yorkshire Dales and that he had ‘remained positive about the future’ but was stressed about moving out of the marital home.

Mr Breach had never made any comment to his GP or his wife Samantha about wanting to harm himself.

Therefore, based on probability, senior coroner David Ridley recorded Mr Breach's death as an accident rather than suicide.

Mr Ridley said: "I think it was an impulsive act, a cry for help. He thought about it but he didn't want to die yet, he set that will in motion."

At the time of his death, Mr Breach was employed as a civil servant by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Community.

He also conducted the Hackitt Review into building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower Fire.

Prior to this, he led a team at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, Salisbury.

Mr Ridley offered his condolences to the family for their untimely loss of James.

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