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Tragedy of civil engineer who battled heroin addiction

The family of a Coleraine man whose battle with drug addiction finally claimed his life has spoken of their anguish over the past year.

Russell Geoffrey Whiteside, a talented civil engineer, died from a heroin overdose in February 2009.

Following an inquest into his death yesterday, his heartbroken family told the Belfast Telegraph that the past 11 months had been devastating, especially for his two children.

Mr Whiteside’s brother Tristan explained that even though almost a year had passed since his death, his family’s grief was still quite raw.

But, he added, they wanted to pay tribute to him as well.

He said his brother was a “great person” who had “brains to burn” but was also, unfortunately, someone who made a few wrong choices in life.

“He had been a civil engineer for around 15 years,” Tristan said. “It was his passion, it was from the beginning.

“He was a good father and a great person.”

Yesterday during the hearing in Coleraine, the court was told the 41-year-old father-of-two had been addicted to the substance for eight years and was in the midst of treatment when he took the fatal dose.

A post-mortem found he died from heroin toxicity.

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