Student who was 'turning life around' died from heroin overdose at university accomodation

Dylan Causero had battled with drug addiction but appeared to be "turning his life around" before his death. Credit: Media Wales

A student who was described as fiercely "intelligent and funny" died from a heroin overdose at his university accommodation, an inquest has heard.

Dylan Causero, 24, was found dead by his mother, Nicola, in his room at Liberty Severn Point halls in Cardiff, on December 18, 2021.

Mr Causero, who was originally from Tonyrefail and was in his final year at Cardiff Metropolitan University, had struggled with addiction but had made progress getting clean in the weeks leading up to his death.

An inquest at Pontypridd Coroner's Court heard that Mr Causero, who was studying Biomedical Sciences with Health, Exercise and Nutrition, had an extensive history of drug misuse starting from a young age.

In a statement to the court, his mother said he started taking cannabis when he was around 15 or 16.

The court heard how his drug misuse then progressed to ketamine, MDMA, cocaine, opiods and prescription drugs. He had also started using IV heroin in the last six months of his life.

Two days before he died, Mr Causero's mother said he had received a referral for ADHD - which he believed he had and may have taken drugs to self-medicate.

The 24-year-old had been open with peers and university staff about his struggles with drug addiction.

Director of student services at Cardiff Metropolitan University Kirsty Palmer said that when he enrolled onto his degree in 2018, he was offered support.

Dylan Causero had an interest in sports and was described as fiercely intelligent by university tutors. Credit: Media Wales

In another statement, one his flatmates in his final year at Liberty Severn Point, Aman Tiwali, said: "When I first moved in, Dylan mentioned that he had addiction issues."

He added that he was "worried that he was not okay" and "concerned with the way he was living his life."

Mr Causero's girlfriend, Olivia Walsh, whom he had dated for a few months before his death, also provided evidence to the court.

In a statement she said he had told her about his drug misuse but said he was in the process of getting better. She added: "He would never use drugs or smoke in front of me. He wanted me to see the best of him."

In the weeks before his death, the student had receiving help and support from his mother, university services, doctors, and his girlfriend - including a referral to mental health and addiction charity EDAS, the hearing was told.

His mother told the court he "was in a really good place" and "we were over the moon he was doing so well". Regional student support officer Martin McKendley also said: "Over the last couple of weeks prior to his death he appeared to have his life in order."

He had been clean from taking heroin for four weeks however his mother suspected he had starting using it again. She became concerned on December 17 2021 when he was not picking up her calls or answering text messages.

His girlfriend said that she had spoken to Mr Causero on the evening of December 16 and he was "fine", but she too became concerned when she had no response from him the following day.

His mother requested the university carry out a welfare check on her son, before she went down herself and requested entry to his room on December 18, the hearing was told.In his statement of evidence to the court, Rhodri Lennox, a sales and service advisor to students, said that at approximately 10:30am on December 18 he had escorted Mr Causero's mother to his room.

After no response when she knocked the door, Mr Lennox unlocked it and they discovered him in his chair. It was clear that Mr Causero had died, he said.

A statement from a police officer who attended the scene noted that drug paraphernalia was "strewn around the room".

'We will forever for proud of you'Paying tribute to her late son after the hearing on Wednesday, Mr Causero's mother said: "Dylan, my beautiful, clever, funny boy. We all miss you so very much.

"We miss your inappropriate humour, your weird but funny comments, the deep conversations, the way you had no filter. Your insane intelligence, your physical presence and strength, your knowledge, your silliness, your cheeky smile and your handsome face.

"You fought so hard to conquer your demons, you never gave up and we will forever be proud of you. We will love you for eternity with all our hearts."

In her statement to the court, she recalled he had a promising rugby career and he loved the gym. She recalled how at her son's cremation in January this year, he was described as "one of the most intelligent students [the university] had ever had".

Mr Causero's tutors said that he was fiercely intelligent and he would ask challenging questions in lectures. He was awarded his degree posthumously, the hearing was told.

'He was turning his life around'Pathologist Dr Thomas Hockey said the main findings of Mr Causero's blood toxicology indicated heroin use. He said the student had had a fatal overdose, deeming the cause of death heroin toxicity.Assistant coroner Gaynor Kynaston told the court that it was part of her role to decide if the overdose was intentional or not.

She said: "I have not seen any evidence that he intended to bring about his death and it is for that reason I am not going to say suicide. All the evidence points to the opposite, really - he was turning his life around.

"It is a testament to him that he was given his degree posthumously."

Mrs Kynaston recorded a conclusion of drug-related death.