‘Gifted’ rugby player found dead at home on Christmas Day, trial held


A once promising rugby player was found dead at home on Christmas Day, an interrogation is heard.


Joseph Thomas was discovered on the evening of December 25, 2018 by two friends lying on the floor in their ground floor flat in the Netherlands Court, Greenmeadow, CWMbran.

The Gwent Coroners’ Court heard how the couple, who had called to see the 23-year-old, managed to access his address because the lock on the door had previously been broken.


They then called emergency services in the living room, finding her unresponsive on their side.

The place was described as a “state of disarray” and his body was surrounded by “blister packs of various prescription drugs” and “empty cans of lager”.

There was also an inverted table and chair nearby and a pool of vomit beside it.


After some time a paramedic team reached the address but was unable to revive him and was declared brought dead after 7 pm.

The postmortem toxicology report revealed that cannabinoids – compounds found in cannabis – and diazepam, among others, were present in his system. A “toxic level” of pregabalin was also found, which is used to treat anxiety.

However, Senior Coroner Carolyn Saunders described how Thomas had excelled in rugby during his younger years, being selected at both the regional and national level.


He played for the youth side of the Newports Dragons and enjoyed a college scholarship with the Wigan Warriors.

However, in a statement read out in court, Thomas’ mother Caroline described how her son had given up on the sport because “he didn’t believe in himself.”

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Inquiries also revealed that Thomas had a history of anger issues, drug problems, and mental health difficulties.

In addition, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, personality disorder, and drug psychosis.

He also attempted to overdose several times before his death, was dismembered and, after trouble with the police, served time in prison.

However, his mother told him, at school age and after, the various drugs assigned to help him and the mental health agencies to be discouraged by the system.

“He struggled since childhood,” she told the court.

“He can be destructive and his own worst enemy, but he can also be the best person in the world.”

He said that he would regularly give all his money to the homeless he met on the street and that he would have to remind her to put some back for himself.

Ms Thomas also spoke about how her “very intelligent” son had problems with fit and how he was considered “weird” by many, further adding that he only excelled on the rugby pitch because it was such an oddity. was the place where he was accepted.

As painful as these actions are for those who have lost a loved one, the lessons that can be learned from questioning can go a long way in saving the lives of others.

The press has a legal right to participate in investigations and a responsibility to report on them as part of its duty to uphold the principle of open justice.

It is the duty of a journalist to ensure that the public understands the reasons why someone died and to ensure that their death is not kept secret. An inquiry report can also dispel any rumor or doubt about the death of a person.

But, more importantly, an investigation report can draw attention to circumstances that could have prevented further deaths.

An entire branch of the judicial system cannot be held responsible if journalists shy away from being involved in investigations.

Inquiries can often prompt extensive discussion on serious issues, the most recent of these being mental health and suicide.

The editors actively ask and encourage journalists to speak to the family and friends of the person who is the subject of investigation. Their contribution helps us to build a clearer picture of the person who died and also gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to our loved one.

Often families do not want to speak to the press and of course that decision should be respected. However, as seen by many powerful media campaigns, the input of one person’s family and friends can make all the difference in helping others save.

Without the presence of the press at the interrogation questions would remain unanswered and lives would be lost.

She described their “strong bond”, adding that, of her five children, Joseph was “the one who took up all my time.”

Ultimately, however, she is convinced that her son’s behavior has made her “safer in prison than at home”.

“His favorite day of the year was Christmas Day,” she said. “And all his favorite movies were Christmas movies — even though he was 23.

“I just miss him.”

Ms Thomas also said that, shortly before 25 December, her son went to his GP and told her he would run off the recently prescribed pregabalin – at which point he was given an additional week’s batch Was.

In a nutshell, Ms Saunders shared the family’s concern about this, but could not say whether it was the right decision, adding that GPs need to trust their patient or possibly need medication during the festivities. He was faced with the dilemma of leaving without him. Duration.

She described Thomas’s life as “chaotic” and his mental health problems that “were masked or contributed to by his illegal drug use.”

She said that he was suffering from an underlying chest infection at the time of his death and that taking large amounts of pregabalin and diazepam would have had a sedative effect and “depressed his respiratory system.”

He recorded a finding that he “died of natural causes, contributed by prescription drug overdose.”

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