Coroner at inquest into death of Chesterfield man blasts trio for telling 'downright lies'

Flowers left at Thorntree Court after Darren Broadbent's death.
Flowers left at Thorntree Court after Darren Broadbent's death.

Mystery continues to surround the death of a Chesterfield drug dealer who suffered a stab wound to his chest.

Darren Broadbent, 35, died at a flat in Thorntree Court, Grangewood, on August 1, 2016.

This week, a Chesterfield coroners' court inquest heard how Mr Broadbent, of Grindlow Avenue, Boythorpe, lost his life after attempting to rob two drug dealers from Sheffield - Jaiden Browne-Evans, who was 18 at the time, and a teenager who cannot be identified because of his age and will be referred to as Boy A.

The court was told the intended robbery was the brainchild of Mr Broadbent's friend, Susan Shaw, who owed him £50. She is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit robbery.

Recording a narrative conclusion on Wednesday, coroner Kathryn Hayes said: "Darren died from a knife wound sustained during an altercation with two other people after he attempted to rob them.

"It is not possible to establish whether the wound was inflicted deliberately or in self-defence or whether it occurred accidentally during the melee."

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Trio's evidence was 'far from satisfactory'

Ms Hayes told the inquest: "On a balance of probabilities, Darren had been alerted by Susan to the possibility of obtaining large amounts of cash and drugs, the proceeds of drug-dealing.

"Without warning he broke into the flat, armed with a golf club, and threatened two of the flat's three occupants.

"He shouted at them, demanding money, and attempted to assault them with the golf club and with a spray from an aerosol can."

She said that, on a balance of probabilities, either Mr Browne-Evans or Boy A picked up a knife which had earlier been used for the preparation of crack cocaine for drug deals.

"During the course of the altercation that knife came to stab Darren through his chest and he died almost immediately from that wound," she added.

Shaw, Mr Browne-Evans and Boy A all told the court they did not stab Mr Broadbent.

Ms Hayes added that Mr Browne-Evans and Boy A ran off after the altercation and were 'likely to have taken the knife with them' before leaving it in a nearby flat to try and implicate a wholly innocent man - Thomas Ludlam - in what she described as a 'callous act'.

Mr Browne-Evans and Boy A were initially charged with murdering Mr Broadbent - but the Crown Prosecution Service later said convictions were not realistic and the charges against them were dropped.

Referring to Shaw, Mr Browne-Evans and Boy A, Ms Hayes said their evidence was 'far from satisfactory'.

She added: "I was provided with a mixture of half-truths, reluctant truths, evasiveness and in some cases downright lies from amongst which I have had to pick out the few honest answers given.

"It is clear that these three people were heavily involved in the circumstances leading to Darren's death.

"They had the opportunity to begin to redress their involvement before me but none of them took this opportunity fully."

Coroner sounds drugs warning

At the end of the inquest, Ms Hayes said: "Illicit drugs underpins almost every aspect of this case.

"The effects of illicit drug dealing and drug use appear to be to be endemic in society - they lead to misery and crime.

"Drugs blight lives and yet we have to deal with them time and time again.

"They affect not only the individuals but their families.

"Susan is in prison. Boy A and Jaiden are two young men who should be making their families proud of them and taking all the opportunities that life has to offer young people - but they have brought stress and worry upon their families instead. And Darren is dead. That is the ultimate effect.

"When I look around this courtroom now I do not see any of the three interested persons who were at the flat present. That is their choice but it does not say anything positive about them.

"I do see their mothers, grandmothers and other family members who are left to pick up the pieces. They, at least, have conducted themselves with dignity during the process and I thank them for that.

"I can only hope that this sad case serves as its own warning about illicit drugs."

Ms Hayes offered her condolences to Mr Broadbent's mother, who described her son as a 'thoughtful and kind' person who enjoyed sports and was a plumber by trade but sadly developed a drug habit, went into rehab but later relapsed.