The Sunderland teacher found dead after taking drugs in the middle of the fight to deal with diabetes

A former school principal, originally from the Northeast, was found dead after taking drugs in the middle of battles to manage his diabetes, a lawsuit has heard.

John Farrell of Sunderland, a former principal of Bishop Walsh Catholic School in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, was spotted on a bedroom floor by a friend on the morning of August 16th.

The ketamine and methamphetamines he had taken shortly before had a “contagious effect” on his diabetes, leading to his death, the Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard.

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Assistant forensic pathologist Ian Dreelan recounted how Mr. Farrell had a history of poor management of his serious condition and substance abuse.

Managing his diabetes became increasingly difficult after his right leg was amputated due to diabetes in May 2021, just months before his death, the Birmingham study was told on Monday.

Doctors had also referred to his drug use and depression after the life-changing operation, reports Birmingham Live.

“He had clearly mismanaged his insulin levels, and that led him to a very similar incident, but on that occasion he lived to tell the story,” the forensic pathologist said, referring to a previous incident.

“He struggled to get the balance right. He had been pretty good at managing it, but it got harder to do. The amputation had a profound effect on it.

“On August 16, he was found dead lying on a bedroom floor by a friend.”

His autopsy revealed that he “used drugs shortly before his death,” which contributed to complications with his diabetes.

His cause of death was recorded as hypoglycemia, caused by diabetes and the use of ketamine and methamphetamine.

Sir. Farrell had been headmaster at Bishop Walsh for 10 years and had previously been assistant headmaster at the nearby St Edmund Campion Catholic School in Erdington.

Both schools are part of St. John Paul II Multi Academy, where Mr. Farrell served as Catholic senior leader after leaving his role as rector of Bishop Walsh.



Bishop Walsh Catholic School, Sutton Coldfield

He was from Sunderland, but moved to the Midlands to study at Birmingham University in 1984, where he studied history before becoming a teacher.

Bishop Walsh Catholic School has previously paid tribute to their former principal.

An earlier statement said: “Mr Farrell made a huge contribution to thousands of lives in a long and distinguished career. His family is requesting privacy at this time.”

A former Bishop Walsh student, Paul Fleming, had said: “Mr. Farrell was an inspiring teacher, radical Catholic and rude socialist. His heart-on-sleeve humanity separated him. Like many of my teachers at Bishop Walsh, I owe him so very.”

Other former students also praised Mr. Farrell’s teaching. Michael Baker said, “Heartbreaking. An incredible teacher, school leader and employer who inspired me to become a teacher. May he rest in peace.”

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