Soldier who carried Lee Rigby’s coffin and died of drug-related heart failure

A former soldier and devoted dad who served alongside murdered Lee Rigby, died of heart failure following a history of cocaine use, an inquest heard.

Described in court by his mum Karen Hessing as a "practical joker' who made sure there was 'never a dull moment when he was around, Dean Corbett, 32 was found dead at his flat in Urmston, Trafford on August 16, 2020.

Mrs Hessing said Corporal Corbett, who has a seven-year-old son, Lewis, joined the army at 19, having previously not been able to hold a job down, and his family were surprised and proud.

Cpl Corbett, who served alongside Drummer Rigby as a Fusilier with 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, left the army in 2017, having served time in Kenya, Jordan and Afghanistan.

His mother described how when he returned to the UK after serving in Afghanistan he was "edgy and anxious all the time."

And she said the death of his close friend Lee Rigby, from Middleton, who was brutally murdered in a terror attack in Woolwich, London, in 2013, and for whom he was a pallbearer, left "A massive impact."

Mrs Hessing said Cpl Corbett, who was a pupil at St Monica's Primary School in Flixton and Blessed Thomas Holford High School in Altrincham, did not like seeking help and claims he was taking cocaine and self-medicating with antipsychotic medication.

The court heard having left the army, his marriage broke down, he suffered bereavements when his nana, uncle and dad died, and he started taking drugs – with lockdown only adding to his mental struggles.

Giving evidence, Angela Watson, a Mental Health Practitioner for Trafford Health and Justice team, told how she made a referral for Cpl Corbett to Trafford Psychology Services in July 2020 because he was displaying symptoms of PTSD.

Ms Watson says he told her he was suffering flashbacks, nightmares and increased anxiety.

She informed his GP but they were unable to contact him.

Detective Inspector Yanica Weir for GMP, Salford District was called to Cpl Corbett's two-bedroomed flat on August 16 by his 26-year-old sister Abigail, who had been concerned she had not heard from her brother for several days.

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Having gone round to see him she found him unresponsive and called the police.

DI Weir described the premises as "dirty and chaotic" and officers were satisfied no third party was involved.

Cpl Corbett's phone was examined and DI Weir said there was nothing on it to suggest he intended to harm himself.

A toxicologist report provided evidence he had used cocaine prior to his death.

Assistant Coroner for Greater Manchester South, Lauren Costello, said: "We have heard that Dean was a loving son and that he loved his family and loved his son, who was a protective factor for when his mental health was a concern.

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"Dean received a glowing reference when he left the Army. His mental health always suffered and there was a decline after being in Afghanistan.

"On two occasions he lost soldiers he was close to and the death of Lee Rigby caused a massive impact. Cap in hand with his mental health came to his drug dependency.

"He took drugs to cope. And drug-taking had an impact on his health."

Mrs Costello concluded Cpl Corbett had died from heart failure contributed to by long term use of cocaine.

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