An ‘inspiring’ former headteacher was found dead after taking drugs amid struggles to manage his diabetes, an inquest heard.

John Farrell, ex-principal of Bishop Walsh Catholic School in Sutton Coldfield, was sadly discovered on a bedroom floor by a friend on the morning of August 16.

The ketamine and methamphetamines he had taken shortly before had a “knock-on effect” on his diabetes which led to his death, Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard.

Assistant coroner Ian Dreelan told how Mr Farrell had a history of poorly managing his serious condition and drug misuse.

Managing his diabetes became increasingly difficult after his right leg was amputated due to diabetes in May 2021, only months before his death, the Birmingham inquest was told on Monday (November 15).

Medics had also referenced his drug use and depression following the life-changing surgery.

“He had clearly mismanaged his insulin levels and that led him into a very similar incident but on that occasion he lived to tell the tale,” the coroner said, referencing a previous incident.

“He was struggling to get that balance right. He had been quite good at managing it but it was getting more difficult to do. The amputation had a profound effect on that.

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

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

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

Mr Farrell had been headteacher at Bishop Walsh for ten years and prior to that had been assistant headteacher at nearby St Edmund Campion Catholic School in Erdington.

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Both schools are part of the St. John Paul II Multi Academy, where Mr Farrell served as a Catholic Senior Executive Leader, after leaving his role as principal at Bishop Walsh.

He hailed from Sunderland but moved to the Midlands to study at Birmingham University in 1984 where he studied history and then his Post Graduate Certificate in Education in history geography and PE, before becoming a teacher.

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

A previous statement said: “Mr Farrell made a huge contribution to thousands of lives in a long and distinguished career. His family requests privacy at this time.”

A former Bishop Walsh pupil, Paul Fleming, had said: “Mr Farrell was an inspirational teacher, radical Catholic & unashamed socialist. His heart-on-sleeve humanity set him apart.

“Like lots of my teachers at Bishop Walsh I owe him so much.”

Other former pupils also praised Mr Farrell’s teaching.

Michael Baker said: “Heartbreaking. An incredible teacher, headteacher and employer who inspired me to become a teacher. May he rest in peace.”

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