Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Tony Collingwood, 40, from Southend, died after a cocktail of drugs
A MAN who tragically lost three of his children in a house fire died from taking a cocktail of drugs at his home.
Tony Collingwood, 40, passed away in the bedroom of his flat in Kursaal Way, Southend, in the early hours of July 31 last year.
It was 16 years on from losing his three youngsters.
Yesterday’s inquest heard how four of his friends were in the next room at the time of his death, and how one of them was later arrested on suspicion of killing him.
Keeley Hensey was arrested after a mysterious text was sent to Mr Collingwood’s brother, Mark, accusing her of injecting Mr Collingwood with the drugs.
Police investigated the allegation, but she was later released without charge.
After Mr Collingwood had received his benefit payments, at midnight just hours before his death, he took money out of a cash point and went to a flat on the Kursaal Estate where he bought cocaine and heroin.
He went back to his bedroom with the drugs and was later found dead.
His friends Keeley Hensey, her boyfriend Gareth Yeo, Gemma Longhurst and Ben Crawford were all at his flat at the time.
Det Con Insp Mark Hall told the inquest at Southend Magistrates Court yesterday police didn’t believe the death was suspicious at first.
But he said: “The day after his body was identified on August 8, Mr Collingwood’s brother Mark received a text message, I was told from an Angie, which said: ‘This girl Hensey gave him the injection – her boyfriend told her to call the ambulance, she didn’t’.”
It went on to say that Ms Hensey was panicking that she would be arrested over the death.
When questioned by police on suspicion of manslaughter, Ms Hensey made no comment.
In a statement read out yesterday by Coroner Yvonne Blake, Gemma Longhurst, 29, described what she saw.
She said: “I heard Keeley saying ‘I’m so jealous’ (of the heroin Mr Collingwood was about to take).
“Afterwards, Tony said to Keeley, ‘Can you come in here with me?’ “A short time later Keeley came out and said ‘I wish that had gone into me’.
“A few minutes later she came out again and was screaming ‘He’s fitting, he’s fitting’.
“Keeley was hysterical, and I said to her to call an ambulance, but she said ‘no, I don’t know the address’. About ten minutes later the paramedics arrived.”
The coroner recorded a narrative verdict of an overdose of a mixture of drugs, resulting in cardiorespiratory failure.
KEELEY Hensey told how she was targeted by a woman who didn’t like her and therefore accused her of killing Tony Collingwood.
Ms Hensey, 40, told how she was good friends with Mr Collingwood – and was left in shock after seeing him after he had overdosed.
She told yesterday’s inquest: “He wasn’t well at the time and I would go to his flat with my boyfriend Gareth Yeo, helping him with cleaning his flat andmaking him cups of tea.
“(That night) Tony went into his room on his own to start with and gave himself an injection like he always did.”
Describing the moment she discovered he had died, she said: “He just looked like he was having a fit.”
She later added: “I now know why my name was put forward (in that text) – that Angie doesn’t like me.”
When coroner Yvonne Blake asked her why she didn’t tell the police this when questioned, she replied that she was exercising her right not to speak, under solicitor’s advice.
Tony’s brother, Mark, said during the hearing: “I do find it strange if you were that innocent you could’ve said that on the night (of police questioning)."
TONY’S brother Mark Collingwood paid a moving tribute to his brother after yesterday’s inquest.
He said: “He was a lovable guy, he had his problems and a lot of that stemmed from the losses he’d suffered.
“We lost our mum the year before he died as well, and he had health problems and it just brought him down again.
“Trying to move on after losing his mum was difficult.
“Not being in work didn’t help the situation either.
“When we lost her, it wasn’t unexpected but it got him down even more.”
Mr Collingwood, 46, who lives in Silver End, near Kelvedon, added how Tony had tried his best to turn things around. He added: “He won the Queen’s Award and he was helping Harp out.
“He fell into a bad circle of friends.
He got the most benefits and they would know when each other got paid and go around people’s houses and were ready for it.
“Sometimes you wish you could do more to help him, but it was difficult.”
IN an interview with the Echo last July – just weeks before he died – Tony spoke about how he’d turned his life around following the horrific personal tragedy in which his three children died in a house fire.
After a spell in prison, he was helped by Southend’s Homeless Action Resource Project, (Harp), which he credited with helping get him clean.
He said: “For about 20 years, my life was a mess.
“I was a drug addict who was using crack cocaine and heroin and I was on a liquid diet of alcohol.
“My three children died in a house fire inWitham 15 years ago and after that my life went into a downward spiral.
“A friend put me in touch with someone from Harp who interviewed me and put me in the hospital straight away.”
He added: “I knew I had to change my life, but I didn’t know how and no one would help me.
Harp has, without a doubt, saved my life.”
At the time, he had a seven-month-old baby.
He volunteered in a Harp charity shop and was later chosen to give the charity’s acceptance speech when the project won a Queen’s Award.
After he died, Doreen Pujol from the charity said: “He touched everyone he came into contact with, he was one of those people."
Comments are closed on this article.