A MOTHER has called for methadone to be kept off the streets after her son died from an overdose of the drug frequently prescribed to recovering heroin addicts.

Gary Mitchell, 39, was found dead at his flat in Christchurch in April after taking methadone for the first time during an extended drink and drugs binge.

Post mortem tests showed the cause of death was methadone poisoning aggravated by alcohol and other anti-depressant and hypnotic drugs.

An inquest into his death heard that Mr Mitchell, who had a drink problem and was a cannabis user, obtained the methadone from a friend.

Other friends and neighbours told the hearing at Bournemouth that they warned Mr Mitchell, who had no experience of heroin or methadone, against taking the drug.

But he was seen to swig from the bottle of methadone at intervals throughout the day and late into the night.

And the 80ml bottle was nearly empty when it was found along with pills and drug-taking equipment when anxious neighbours discovered Mr Mitchell dead on the bed where they had left him asleep two nights earlier.

The inquest heard that Mr Mitchell, who hit the headlines last year when he dived into the river to rescue a dog, was missing his children following the breakdown of a relationship in France. East Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of death by misuse of drugs. "This appears to be a one-off which sadly resulted in his death," he said.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Mitchell's mother, retired nurse Janet Cox, said she planned to campaign for a changes in the way methadone was dispensed for addicts to collect.

She said: "What I would like to see is people stopped from taking methadone away from the place of collection and out on to the street where people like my son can get hold of it.

"If the methadone had not come out of the chemists my son would not have been able to take it and he would be alive today."