A highly-respected British Army officer who secretly used heroin and cocaine was found dead at his home after an accidental drug overdose, an inquest heard.
Captain Ben Jukes ‘excelled at everything he did, in all aspects of life’, a coroner in Manchester said.
But the 32-year-old, who was serving in the Royal Corps of Signals, turned to illegal substances when he was tired or stressed, it was heard.
His sister told the coroner he would even approach homeless people in Manchester city centre to help him get hold of drugs.
Capt Jukes, a keen sportsman and fell runner, was discovered dead in his house in Beswick, east Manchester, by his girlfriend last December.
A toxicity report found traces of cocaine and a potentially fatal amount of Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate which can be between 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine, in his body.
Capt Jukes had injected Fentanyl before his death, it was heard.
Manchester assistant coroner Nick Stanage said he was ‘concerned that the deceased may have been able to evade what should have been a random drug test’ by the British Army during his service.
Mr Jukes’ sister Rosalind told the inquest held in Manchester town hall that her brother confided in her several years ago that he had ‘experimented’ with heroin and cocaine, and said had been using them for a ‘reasonably significant period of time’.
She said he had told her he would approach homeless people in Manchester city centre and offer to share some heroin with them if they could help him source it.
His best friend Gareth Moules said he had been ‘very open’ with him about his drug taking but ‘perhaps not that open about how serious it had become’.
Mr Jukes, who was originally from Shrewsbury but moved to Manchester around four years ago, joined the Army after a spell with the Metropolitan Police joining the military academy in Sandhurst in May 2010.
A keen sportsman and fell runner, the Leeds University graduate had successfully applied for voluntary release and was due to terminate his service in September, this year.
Mr Jukes’ girlfriend Kelly Leonard, who found him and the court heard desperately tried to save him, had no idea about his drug taking.
A post-mortem also found he had bronchial pneumonia and left ventricular hypertrophy, where the wall of the heart’s pumping chamber thickens, and which the court heard can be a symptom of ‘chronic cocaine use’.
However his mother Sheila Jukes said she believed this was most likely due to his fitness and athleticism.