British Croquet Champion Dies From Fentanyl Overdose

By McCarton Ackerman 06/13/14

A recent inquest has confirmed that the November 2013 death of Matthew Burrow was drug related.

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A former British croquet champion died from a overdose of the prescription drug fentanyl after struggling with addiction for years, raising questions about what could have been for his once-promising career.

Last November’s death of Matthew Burrow, 33, only came to light during a recent inquest. He toured with Great Britain’s national croquet team from 2002 to 2005, won the European championships, and reached a career-high ranking of No. 13 before drug addiction took hold.

His cousin, Emma Burrow, said he eventually fell into the “wrong crowd” and started abusing drugs at the peak of his career. After struggling to find work, Burrow eventually turned to crime and was sentenced to three years in jail in April 2010 for helping a woman import heroin from the UK to Jersey, located in the Channel Islands.

Burrow overdosed on fentanyl the day before his death, but refused medical attention. On November 26, his grandmother found him unconscious on the floor of her bathroom in Saint Brélade and paramedics were unable to revive him. Fentanyl and Diazepam were found in his system, with Burrow having ingested three times the amount of heroin that could be considered a fatal dose. His grandmother also reported that the death of his father eight years ago further fueled his drug use.

Burrow’s fentanyl habit also reportedly stemmed from his heroin addiction. Because heroin costs 10 times more on the Channel Islands as it would in the UK, many turn to the patch-based drug because it is considerably cheaper. "It is a pretty dangerous procedure because it is very difficult to know how much Fentanyl has been abstracted from the patch,” said Nicholas Hubbard, a drugs expert. “It's impossible to know how much is getting injected.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.