Methadone killed Bailey Rae's husband

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The Independent Online

The husband of singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae died after an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol, a coroner ruled yesterday.

Police found the body of Scottish-born Jason Rae, 31, at a flat in the Hyde Park area of Leeds on March 22.

Coroner David Hinchliff gave a verdict of death by misadventure to Mr Rae's assembled friends and family at Leeds Coroner's Court.

They heard that the saxophonist with funk band the Haggis Horns had methadone, an artificially manufactured heroin substitute, in his blood, as well as blood alcohol levels that put him at more than twice the legal drinking limit.

Mr Hinchliff said: "Methadone is a dangerous substance in its own right.

"It is what's called a central nervous system depressive, which, if taken in quantity, can affect the part of the brain that controls breathing.

"This, coupled with alcohol, can be devastating."

He said Mr Rae would have fallen into a deep sleep, his breathing would have become shallower and then stopped.

The talented musician said to have no history of either methadone or heroin use, but had battled to control his drinking in the past.

In a statement read by the coroner in court, Ms Bailey Rae, who was not present, said: "Jason had struggled on and off for a few years with an issued of drinking.

"There had been numerous periods of three to seven weeks in the last few years where he has drunk nothing at all in an attempt to get to the bottom of why when he does drink he goes to such extremes."

Bailey Rae, 29, met her husband at a Leeds jazz club where she was working as a cloakroom attendant. They married in 2001.

She said in her statement: "My husband is my first and only true love. He is the most beautiful and complex person I have ever known. He is utterly irreplaceable."

She paid tribute to his "unquestionable and innate talent", calling him a faithful and loyal friend and son.

Bailey Rae's husband had recently returned to Leeds after touring with his band.

She said he got up early on the morning of March 21, performed household chores and spent time with her before she left their house.

Mr Rae then went to a pub in Hyde Park, where he met a friend, James Sheasby. Later that evening they returned to Mr Sheasby's house and continued drinking.

Mr Sheasby, who had previously had problems with heroin addiction, was legally prescribed methadone as part of his drug treatment.

He left Mr Rae asleep on the sofa to go and get pizza, and later went to bed, leaving him asleep. But when he got up the next afternoon he was unable to wake his friend.

Police found three empty bottles of methadone on the sofa next to Mr Rae, as well as more of the drug in a fridge in the flat.

Forensic physiologist Professor Peter Vanezis said that as Mr Rae was a "naive user" of methadone, his body would be more severely affected by the drug than an experienced user.

He also found traces of cocaine and ecstasy during the post-mortem examination, but said these would not have contributed to Mr Rae's death.

Bailey Rae said: "It was not unusual for Jason to drink heavily, and while under the influence of alcohol to seek out drugs like coke and ecstasy as part of a night out or to keep the night going."

She continued: "Knowing Jason, I know he had gone into the pub for a few drinks thinking it was harmless, that he could be in control.

"He has never used or tried out drugs sober, it was only when he was drunk that it seemed like a good idea.

"He has not, to my knowledge, ever tried methadone."

Detective Superintendent Stephen Payne of West Yorkshire Police said Mr Sheasby alerted police as soon as he realised his friend was dead, and co-operated fully with the investigation, adding that he was satisfied he had not given Mr Rae the methadone.

Mr Rae's band, the Haggis Horns, played as a backing band for Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson and Bailey Rae herself, and had recently released a well-received debut album, Hot Damn!, at the time of his death.

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