Methadone death 'shocked mother'

A mother has told an inquiry of her shock at her son's death in a Borders clinic after receiving a fatal dose of heroin substitute methadone.

Kieran Nichol, 20, was being treated for depression and valium addiction at Castle Craig Hospital when he died.

His mother, Jacqueline Nichol, told the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court her son did not have a heroin problem.

She said his death had a "psychological effect" on the whole family. The fatal accident inquiry continues.

Mrs Nichol, 48, told the hearing her son had been admitted to the 400-a-day hospital in Blyth Bridge in a bid to cure his depression and addiction to valium.

He spent six weeks "detoxing" before discharging himself in October 2005.

Two months later, he lapsed back into depression and drug use and his mother rang the hospital to ask for her son to be re-admitted.

He was taken in the following day, on 9 December.

"I was very concerned about his state of mind and his mental health," said Mrs Nichol.

"He was upset and crying and saying he needed help."

Two days later, police arrived at her home in Weensland Road, Hawick, to say her son had died.

"To be told less than 48 hours later he's died in their care, yes we were shocked," said Mrs Nichol.

"It had a psychological effect on all the family."

Sold valium

Staff at the hospital later discovered a letter written by Mr Nichol which claimed he had been using drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, crack, LSD and heroin since the age of 13.

Mr Nichol also wrote that he had been expelled from school aged 15 for selling cannabis and had later sold valium for his uncle.

Mrs Nichol said she was aware her son had been using drugs from an early age but denied knowing he had been expelled for selling cannabis.

She added he had confessed to smoking heroin twice, but was not aware of his claim to doctors that he had smoked it around seven times.