By Kim Pilling, PA
The drug habit of Kerry Katona’s ex-partner got “significantly worse” when the Atomic Kitten singer stopped him seeing their daughter, an inquest has heard.
George Osaghae-Kay (39) from Warrington in northwest England, collapsed after he was seen to eat a quantity of cocaine at the Holiday Inn hotel in Runcorn, Cheshire, on July 6th 2019.
He was rushed to hospital but he could not be revived, and died from cocaine toxicity.
Hotel worker Luke Smith said Mr Osaghae-Kay pulled a sock from his pants which contained a “large white ball”.
Mr Smith believed the ball was drugs and described the hotel guest “biting into the ball which caused it to crumble”.
Mr Osaghae-Kay became unwell as an ambulance was called and he was placed in the recovery position until paramedics arrived, he said.
Police attended the hotel the previous evening following reports of his erratic behaviour, including banging on the doors of other guests.
A small residual quantity of drugs was found in his bathroom, the inquest at Warrington Parr Hall was told, but he was not arrested or searched.
His mother Hilary Kay told the court he was a “lovely lad who would do anything for anyone” but had been struggling with drug use and mental health issues.
She said her son, who had played rugby in both codes for Sale, Widnes and Lancashire, had taken recreational drugs from a young age and his consumption was getting worse from about May 2019.
His brother Ashley added: “The drug-taking period increased during his time with his wife and got significantly worse when they were separated due to the fact that he was stopped from seeing his child.”
In July 2014 he was diagnosed as having suffered a small heart attack from the use of cocaine and was admitted to hospital again in May 2019 with drug-induced psychosis, but discharged the following day, the court heard.
Katona and Mr Osaghae-Kay married in 2014 and had a daughter, Dylan-Jorge, before they reportedly divorced in 2017.
The inquest was told that hotel worker Michael Hulme said he estimated the amount of drugs he saw in Mr Osaghae-Kay’s hotel bathroom was equivalent to “four large pinches”.
Hotel operations manager Craig Ponsford said he saw white powder near the bathroom sink on a piece of toilet roll, which amounted to “about half a teaspoon”.
He said Mr Osaghae-Kay had been behaving in a “paranoid and irrational way” and suggested he return to his room.
The manager said the hotel guest made reference to “taking another line of cocaine” and, and he told him he did not think it was a good idea as he decided to alert the police over concerns for Mr Osaghae-Kay’s welfare.
Mr Ponsford said Mr Osaghae-Kay stayed on the bed and he did not see him go into the bathroom.
Pc Declan Corcoran was one of two Cheshire Police officers who attended the hotel and recalled Mr Osaghae-Kay sitting at the end of his bed and appearing “quite calm”.
He said Mr Osaghae-Kay told him he had “white stuff about a hour ago” and understood what was in the bathroom was the remnants of what had been taken.
A second officer, Pc A, who cannot be identified after Assistant Coroner for Cheshire, Peter Sigee, ruled she should be granted anonymity, said she checked the bathroom but found only a “little trace” of a substance.
She said: “I considered bagging it up but there was nothing there physically to take away. If there was half a teaspoon I would have seen it.”
Pc A told the inquest she considered the amount was insufficient to arrest him or conduct a search.
She too said he appeared calm and she had no concerns about his physical or mental health.
The officer said he mentioned his mental health, but told her he had no thoughts of self-harm.
Pc A said: “He was quite adamant he was going to stay in his hotel room and get his head down.”
The inquest was told Mr Osaghae-Kay did leave his room later in the evening, but a night porter was able to return him there.
Inquiries had failed to determine how long he was out of his room and what he had done in that time.
He went on to come out of his room the next morning and ate a quantity of cocaine.
Recording a conclusion of a drug-related death, Mr Sigee said he had not identified any failing by the police which he could attribute as causative to the death.
He said it was not known what Mr Osaghae-Kay did later on the night of July 5th when he left his room and whether he may have acquired drugs from somewhere else.
Mr Sigee said there was no evidence that Mr Osaghae-Kay intended to take his own life.
A spokesman for Katona said she did not wish to comment on the matter.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at mentalhealthireland.ie/get-support. In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.