6th Jul, 2022

Friend who supplied young Coventry man with morphine which killed him is jailed

Editorial Correspondent 21st Jun, 2019 Updated: 21st Jun, 2019

A FRIEND who supplied a young Coventry man with the powerful morphine tablets which killed him, without properly warning him of the danger they posed, has been jailed.

Nicholas Milligan had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to supplying the deadly tablets to 22-year-old Nicholas Milligan and attempting to supply him with cocaine.

Josh had died of a morphine overdose at his home in Jersey Close, Coventry, where he lived with his girlfriend Holly McLeish after moving from Wigan for an IT job.

Milligan (25) of School Lane, Up Holland, near Wigan, who was cleared of Josh’s manslaughter following a trial earlier this month, was jailed for three years and nine months.

Also in the dock was Craig Tomlinson (34) of Stopforth Street, Wigan, who was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months after he admitted attempting to supply cocaine.

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC said that in February 2017 Milligan had travelled to Coventry to visit Josh, a long-time friend, bringing with him cocaine and morphine for them to share.

Milligan had obtained 10 200mg morphine sulphate tablets, the highest possible strength, which Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said was normally used for end-of-life treatment for people who had already been on high doses.

Josh himself had arranged for Tomlinson to supply Milligan with cocaine for him to bring down, and after they and Holly had consumed it, Josh made a call to someone to buy more.

Holly went to bed at about 6am, and later became aware of Josh struggling to breathe, and was initially reassured by Milligan before he eventually called for an ambulance.

But it was too late, and paramedics were unable to revive josh, who died of a morphine overdose.

Miss Darlow, who said the cocaine had played no part in his death, pointed out that a doctor had told the court that just one tablet could have been fatal to someone not used to them.

But he could not possibly have survived the two, or possibly three, tablets he had in fact taken.

Milligan said that before he went to bed he told Josh not to take more than one, but the judge observed: “He didn’t tell him of the risk, other than telling him not to take more than one – and he left him with considerably more than one.”

Kevin Hegarty QC, for Milligan, argued: “One cannot dismiss the warning as being a throw-away remark, because it was precise as to the quantity beyond which he should not go.

“Of course he bears the burden of having supplied the drug which killed a long-standing friend. That is with him today, as it was that night two years ago.”

Mr Hegarty said the death of his friend had led to ‘a collapse in his own life’ and a suicide attempt which had led to him being ‘sectioned.’

Ian Windridge, for Tomlinson, said Tomlinson had had a relationship with Josh’s sister for some 11 years, which led to him and Josh becoming friends and they would take drugs together.

He was then contacted by Josh asking him to get some cocaine for Milligan to bring with him on his visit, and he had done so from his usual supplier to pass on.

Jailing Milligan, Judge de Bertodano told him: “You along with Mr Armstrong and his girlfriend consumed all the cocaine you had brought, and ordered more and took that as well.

“Then as you were making for bed in the early hours of the morning, you gave Josh access to your morphine tablets, telling him, on your account, not to take more than one.

“I have no doubt you were a habitual user of morphine. It may be, and I sentence you on the basis, that you did tell him not to take more than one.

“But even in that situation, you left him with a number of tablets, and you failed to warn him of something you knew perfectly well, that if he did take more than one it would kill him. You did nothing to warn him these were exceptionally strong.

“You went to bed, leaving him in a highly intoxicated state, and leaving the drugs on the table, knowing he was likely to take at least one. It was highly reckless behaviour.

“His life was tragically cut short because of the exceptionally dangerous drugs you supplied him with.”

The judge told Tomlinson: “You are here because you supplied cocaine on a social basis to Josh Armstrong, who was someone you were very close to, and you and he had taken drugs together before.

“On this occasion, because of him being supplied with quite a different drug, which was nothing to do with you, the tragic events unfolded which led to his death.”

But she added: “I want to stress his death had absolutely nothing to do with your supply of cocaine to him.”

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