A TEENAGER, whose death sparked a murder inquiry, suffered a heart attack after inhaling butane and propane gas, an inquest heard.

As reported in The Gazette, the police arrested two teenagers, aged 14 and 16, after Jay Benton was found unconscious at a house in Frescade Crescent, Kings Furlong, on the afternoon of July 2.

Detective Sergeant Lee Macarthur told the inquest at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court that the two teenagers, who were with Jay when he fell unconscious, were arrested and the house was cordoned off as a crime scene, because: “It was unclear what had happened and whether an assault had taken place.”

However, the pair were later released without further action after it transpired that 18-year-old Jay, of Berkeley Drive, Brighton Hill, had actually suffered a cardiac arrest after inhaling butane and propane gas from canisters.

Det Sgt Macarthur explained to Jay’s parents, who adopted him when he was two-years-old and were present at the inquest, what happened in the lead up to their son’s death.

He told the inquest that Jay suffered from drug addiction and misuse, which had led him to become involved in “petty crime”, resulting in him spending a short time in prison for theft.

On July 2, Jay was at the address in Frescade Crescent with his two friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and was inhaling butane and propane gas.

Det Sgt Macarthur said the 14-year-old had tried to stop Jay inhaling the gas, and had taken the canisters away and hidden them upstairs, which caused an argument between the two.

Jay and the 16-year-old then began arguing, which Det Sgt Macarthur said turned into “a little bit of a tussle”, resulting in Jay falling and hitting his head on a door.

He added: “He starts to clench his fists before his body starts to slump.”

The detective said Jay was blocking the door so his two friends climbed out of a window.

Det Sgt Macarthur continued: “They got back in and Jay is in the same position and he doesn’t look good. There have been occasions where they have seen him passed out through butane gas.”

An ambulance was called and the two teenagers attempted to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to Jay before paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead at Basingstoke hospital at 3.26pm.

Det Sgt Macarthur said the two teenagers were arrested on suspicion of murder “because of the possibility that the assault could have caused the death”.

He added: “Whilst I make no apologies for them being arrested on suspicion of murder – I think it was the right thing to do – I’m sorry that they had to go through that.”

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be acute butane and propane intoxication.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, North East Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley said: “With the majority of drug abuse, one can see what’s going to happen and one can anticipate the effect of the drugs.

“With butane and propane, no, it’s not so. It’s highly unexpected. It produces cardiac arrhythmias. It’s not a case of habituation and if you do it long enough, you get used to it. The heart just stops and the system breaks down, whether it’s the first time or the 10th time you have used it.”

Mr Bradley said Jay had become dependent on the gas, adding: “It’s a way of getting through his life.”

Mr Bradley questioned whether the argument had raised Jay’s stress levels, which could have “precipitated the arrhythmia”, adding: “If you are in stress and you have inhaled gases, it could be the trigger that switches the system off.”

However, he concluded: “There’s no injury and I have to say that Jay has died at his own hand.”