The mother of a 21-year-old man who was found dead at a YMCA in Cornwall has accused his friend of leaving him to die. The inquest into the death of Kieran Lunn was heard today and yesterday.
Kieran was found dead in his room at the YMCA hostel in Alverton Road in Penzance on the evening of Monday, October 8, 2018.
As part of the evidence given today, the inquest heard from Detective Constable Mathew Cobb of Devon and Cornwall Police.
DC Cobb said how Kieran was not very confident but always tried to please people when he was growing up, and he went through many different friend groups as a child.
When he left Mounts Bay Academy he went to Cornwall College at Camborne to study to become a DJ and friends then introduced him to cannabis and Valium.
DC Cobb said Keiran stole from his family including his mum Sinead Belsom who later found 300 xanax tablets in his room.
DC Cobb said: “It was at this point that Kieran was taken to Addaction (charity) for help for his addiction.
“Sinead Belsom explains that the tablets were returned to Lewis Weaver (who supplied the Xanax) and Weaver’s mother Tess.”
This led to Kieran starting to withdraw and he started hallucinating and sweating and stopped sleeping. His mum told police he would run around the house at night.
Eventually he was taken to A&E at Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, Truro, and he slowly started to get help. He was referred to a secure unit at Potter’s Bar in London in late 2017, where he remained for two weeks.
After arriving back home he was doing better until he started taking Xanax again.
On October 1, 2018, Kieran left the family home and moved into the YMCA Penzance.
DC Cobb read a witness statement from Kieran Scoble, a close friend of Kieran’s.
Mr Scoble said Kieran used recreational drugs, but over the past four years he had “got out of control” and he became addicted to Xanax and Valium.
DC Cobb said: “Kieran Scoble explains how Kieran Lunn had been dealing drugs for a male named Lewis Weaver. Kieran Scoble describes how he tried to stop Kieran Lunn from dealing Valium and Xanax. However, he (Kieran Lunn) needed to in order to fund his own habit and he wouldn’t stop.”
DC Cobb said Kieran had fallen out with Mr Weaver in the period before his death and it was believed that he owed Mr Weaver money.
Kieran Lunn persuaded Mr Scoble to buy Xanax for him from Mr Weaver. Kieran Scoble gave Mr Weaver £50 and in return was given 30 bars of Xanax.
DC Cobb said: “The witness (Mr Scoble) stated he stayed with Kieran Lunn for most of Friday, October 5, and Saturday, October 6, he had a couple of bars (himself), however, he recalls Kieran Lunn eating them like sweeties and drinking cheap cider.”
Kieran Lunn asked Mr Scoble to buy him some more Xanax, but he refused and that was the last time he saw his friend.
DC Cobb then gave several accounts of people who had seen Kieran Lunn in the hours before his death at the YMCA.
Carla Seddon, who was friends with Kieran, said she saw him leaning against the wall to the entrance of the YMCA with another male at around 3.30pm on Monday, October 8, 2018.
The other male was swinging a black plastic bag around and was later identified as Isaac Challen.
DC Cobb then read a witness account from Jack Hockingdon, another friend of Kieran Lunn’s, who said he (Kieran Lunn) would always do drugs with Isaac Challen and score from Lewis Weaver.”
DC Cobb said: “Jack Hockingdon describes how after Kieran Lunn had been in rehab he seemed to be doing well. He went to get a job despite being homeless for a period, however, he relapsed and went back into using drugs with Isaac Challen.
“Jack described how he tried to help Kieran go back to rehab and help Kieran get a room at the YMCA.
“Jack stated how on Monday, October 8, he was leaving the YMCA at about 5pm or earlier and he saw Kieran pacing around in the car park talking to himself.”
He told him he had taken six Xanax bars and had been drinking. He said he was waiting for Isaac to come back and they were going to go to a room and chill out.
DC Cobb said: “The witness stated he gave Kieran a couple of spliffs and told him to go back to his room and not do any more drugs with Isaac. Kieran promised him he would go back to his room, chill and sleep. He said Isaac wasn’t bringing any drugs.”
DC Cobb then read accounts from staff at the YMCA.
Sandra Jefferies, receptionist at the YMCA, said she saw Kieran walk through the reception area at around 3.30pm with another male she had not met before.
DC Cobb said: “At around 6.20pm on the same day, she was at the reception when she took a phone call from the ambulance service to announce an anonymous caller had reported an overdose in flat five.”
Several members of staff then went to Kieran’s flat and found him lying on his bed, unconscious, and his lips were blue.
The ambulance asked Ms Jefferies to find the defibrillator. Staff tried to use the equipment and placed Kieran in the recovery position and waited for paramedics. But they had no success. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at 7.15pm.
A subsequent investigation saw police interview people who live at the YMCA to trace Kieran’s movements and find out whether there was any third party involvement.
Amelia Morley Brown, an immediate neighbour of Kieran at the YMCA, said she was in her flat at 6pm on Monday, October 8, when she heard a male voice in the alleyway behind her flat.
DC Cobb said: “She stated she did not recognise the voice but he was quietly calling Kieran’s name. The witness believes the male was in the alleyway for about half an hour, calling Kieran’s name every five minutes.
“The last time the male called he became loud and started to cry.”
Mark Sylvester , a security guard at the YMCA, was asked to review CCTV by police of the afternoon in question.
DC Cobb said: “The witness noticed that Kieran Lunn enters the house at 3.26pm in the company of another male and the same male leaves the building around 6.30pm carrying a full white carrier bag.”
This was later identified as Mr Challen from CCTV.
Meanwhile, DC Cobb said: “The last person to see Kieran Lunn was a close friend named Isaac Challen. He had been in the room with Kieran Lunn at the time of his death.”
The number used to call South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST) was also identified as that of Mr Challen.
DC Cobb said: “Isaac Challen admitted he met with Kieran Lunn at 1pm outside the YMCA. He confirmed Kieran Lunn was intoxicated and had taken Xanax and Pregabalin and that both parties had been drinking cider.
“Isaac Challen stated that he returned again at about 4pm, he stated Kieran Lunn was still intoxicated but there was nothing unusual.
“He was in his room playing music from his laptop. Isaac said he was aware Kieran had been using harder drugs recently such as heroin and crack cocaine, but he thought his friend had stopped taking these.
“Isaac said Kieran had five Xanax in his possession when he left. He stated he went home to his girlfriend and they went shopping.”
Mr Challen told police he left Kieran’s shortly after 4pm. He later tried to call his friend but there was no reply and he said at 6.24 he called SWAST because he was worrying about him.
However, DC Cobb explained how this doesn’t add up with the evidence.
He said: “Mr Challen was the last person to see Kieran alive and he stayed in the room with the deceased all afternoon. Amelia Morley Brown states it was around 6pm when she heard a male voice call out the name of the deceased.
“Isaac Challen is seen to leave Kieran Lunn’s room at 6.13pm with a bag (by CCTV), clearly he was giving a false account by witness statement to the police and he was also seen leaving in the direction of the YMCA by Sinead Belsom, mother of the deceased.
“The reason Isaac Challen would clean or cleaned the room would have been with the knowledge that Kieran Lunn had in fact died. Isaac Challen could have remained at the scene and he also failed to stay on the line when he contacted the SWAST operator.”
DC Cobb said: “The actions of Isaac Challen hampered the investigation.”
He said there was no evidence of third party involvement in the death of Kieran but said it’s suggested critical evidence was removed from the scene.
The coroner, Guy Davies, asked DC Cobb if he arrested Mr Challen.
DC Cobb said: “We formed a separate investigation where I interviewed Mr Challen about the discrepancies in providing the account of Monday, October 8.”
He was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice after giving evidence about the circumstances of Kieran’s death.
DC Cobb said: “He largely said he couldn’t recall his exact movements because of the use at the time of Xanax and his memory being incorrect.”
Meanwhile he said he couldn’t clearly understand what he was signing when he signed his witness statement because it was done using a screen.
DC Cobb said there is a discrepancy because Mr Challen said he met Kieran on Monday, October 8, at 1pm and later 4pm, leaving shortly afterwards.
He said after telephoning Kieran and receiving no answer or reply he called the ambulance service.
DC Cobb said the timings given in Mr Challen’s account conflicted with the evidence from CCTV and other witnesses.
“The time of leaving Challen stated, was just after 4pm, when in fact CCTV shows him leaving at 6pm, Challen explains this by the fact on the day in question he was high on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.”
DC Cobb said Mr Challen was then asked whether he was calling Kieran’s name in the alleyway outside his flat which he denied. Mr Challen was not charged for the offence of perverting the course of justice because there wasn’t enough evidence.
Kieran’s mum then asked DC Cobb what happened to the drugs and drink they were taking and whether paraphernalia was found in the room.
DC Cobb said: “I recovered several cans of empty cider, one full bottle as we mentioned with Pregabalin tablets, I found them myself in the kitchen on a dusty plate, up in the cupboard.
“Other than another couple of tablets, there was no paraphernalia there was no packaging or anything similar as you suggest.
“When we would attend an address where there’s been heroin use I would expect to find syringes, capped syringes, safely stowed away by the person who would be a regular user, there would be foil, a lighter, ashtrays, those sorts of things.
“Xanax is slightly different. I don’t know how it’s packaged but I would suspect to have found packaging in the address in some form, that was commented on by senior crime officer Paul Rogers. He attended the address and said there’s nothing here other than a few cans and he examined Kieran as I did in relation to the room, neither could we find anything and commented how strange that was.”
Mrs Belsom asked whether he believed any evidence of drugs were removed.
DC Cobb said: “If it was me and I was in the situation in that room I would have left things the way they were and simply stayed and called for an ambulance at the scene.”
However, he said earlier that he believed items were removed from the room.
Mr Challen was then called to give evidence, which he did from a train station on his mobile phone.
Mr Davies told him he’s not obliged to answer any questions that might incriminate him in a criminal offence.
Mr Davies asked him if he and Kieran had a Naloxone kit with them on the day.
Mr Challen replied: “I can’t really remember, no.”
Mr Davies asked: “Do you know if there was one in the room?”
Mr Challen replied: “I don’t know. Honestly a lot about that day I just don’t remember at all and especially since it was so many years ago.”
Mr Davies asked Mr Challen whether he called the ambulance and why.
Mr Challen said: “Yes. Because I had a feeling something strange was wrong he wasn’t answering me. I felt something was wrong so I tried to call him and had no answer so I called the ambulance.”
Mr Davies asked why Mr Challen felt like something was wrong and if there was any more information he could provide to assist the inquest.
Mr Challen said: “I honestly don’t know what else I can say or do really. I’ve been questioned. I thought I gave a statement about this before. Anything I’ve said in the past will be more accurate than anything I can tell you now.”
Mrs Belsom then was given the chance to question Mr Challen.
She said: “In your statement it says you weren’t there that you were shopping with your girlfriend, but the CCTV clearly shows you were there. So why is there such a massive discrepancy?
Mr Challen said: “What do you mean discrepancy? I went shopping after, that’s where I went from Kieran’s.”
Mrs Belsom said: “I know because you walked past me. Even though you said you were in such a state you can’t remember anything. why were you in the room with Kieran?”
Challen responded: “I was with him that day obviously yeah.”
Mrs Belsom said: “Why have you told so many lies afterwards?”
Challen responded: “I haven’t told lies. I’ve got stuff wrong because I was intoxicated, the benzos, the Pregabalin, they mess with your head.”
Mrs Belsom asked: “And what about heroin?”
Mr Challen replied: “I don’t know anything about heroin. When Kieran went into Longreach (mental health unit) he came out with a big drug problem. He wouldn’t have told you, obviously, which is what’s frustrating, it’s like I was the only one who really ever knew Kieran. He was honest with me.”
Mrs Belsom replied: “Yeah, but you left him there didn’t you? I don’t believe anything you’re saying is factually true. And I think you do know what you did that day and if you told the truth in the beginning none of us would be here going through all this now.”
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DC Cobb said the findings of police supported the toxicology report which suggested the death of Kieran was due to illicit drug misuse, namely heroin and high alprazolam (Xanax).
The coroner will give his conclusion into the death of Kieran on Thursday at 10am.