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29.4.11


The son of a millionaire former Tory MP died after eating opium during a gap year trip to India, an inquest heard.


Adam Coombs, 19, was with school friend Ross Taylor in the Himalayan town of Manali - on the so-called hippy trail - when the pair decided to buy the drug.

Having failed to smoke the opiate, the teenager ate some instead and fell into a deep sleep from which he never woke, the coroner at the inquest was told.

After Mr Taylor couldn't wake him the next day he asked the landlady of the guesthouse they were staying at to summon an ambulance.


Ross, also 19, ended up carrying Adam outside where he was rushed to hospital in a motorised rickshaw. But Coombs was pronounced dead on May 28 last year.

Adam was the son of Derek Coombs, MP for Birmingham Yardley between 1970 and 1974 and founder investor of Prospect magazine.

He went to the £27,000-a-year Bryanston school in Dorset, near to the family's enormous 17th century manor house in Iwerne Steepleton, near Blandford.
He had been planning to go to Manchester University and study philosophy.

Speaking at the inquest Mr Taylor replied to the coroner's questioning and said the two friends had failed to smoke the opium and afterwards Adam had eaten some.

He said Adam had stomach pains then fell asleep. Taylor said that he was woken by the landlady knocking at their door.
He said: 'I shouted to get Adam an ambulance. She didn't seem to do anything. She seemed worried about the impact on her rather than the severity of the situation.'

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said his findings corroborated the cause of death as being from ingestion of opium.

He said there were no other marks except some lacerations caused by a previous motorbike accident.

Michael Johnson, coroner for West Dorset, recorded a verdict of death by accidental overdose.

He told Adam's mother Jennifer Coombs, 56, who was at the Dorchester inquest with her husband, that her loss was "every parent's nightmare."

Derek Coombs, 78, is reported to have a £2million town house in Chelsea, London, as well as the country manor house in Dorset.

He once tried to buy the New Statesman magazine and in 2004 was said by the Sunday Times rich list to be worth £52million.

Following Adam's death the family, including Adam's brother Jack, 22, released a statement.

It read: 'Adam had just finished several weeks teaching in a local school and was due to travel south to Delhi to join friends.

'He was staying in a hostel in Manali on May 27, and was found dead in the morning. He effectively went to sleep and never woke up.

'He will be dreadfully missed by his family and friends.'

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