TRIBUTES have been paid to a much-loved Seaton man who died suddenly earlier this year.

Garry Barr, 37, passed away on January 23, in bed at his Seaton home.

The former factory worker was passionate about rugby league, and had played for Seaton, Flimby, Ellenborough Rangers.

An inquest was held in Cockermouth this week.

Assistant coroner Robert Cohen heard that Mr Barr was born with a heart condition and had cardiac surgery after birth. He had a history of diabetes and back pain and also had angina.

Toxicology reports showed there was a minute quantity of alcohol in his body and also cocaine, as well as other medication within therapeutic levels. The cocaine levels were "not particularly high", said Mr Cohen.

A pathologist gave the medical cause of death as: "Sudden cardiac death more common in survivors of surgically corrected congenital heart disease. This is the most likely cause of death in this case but would be made more likely by the significance of cocaine, as demonstrated by toxicology analysis."

Statements were read from Gemma Flynn, his partner of six weeks, and his mother, Carol Barr.

Miss Flynn said: "He didn't tell me he was experiencing anything health wise.

"I saw him for six weeks. He was staying with me in Cleator Moor."

The day before he died they had decided to spend the night at his flat for a change.

"We went to Garry's flat. He was in good spirits and seemed really happy," she said.

She was aware he had a bad back but said: "He didn't complain of anything in the six weeks I was with him.

"We had a really nice night and went to bed."

When she woke the following morning she found Garry lifeless beside her and called 999. She did CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Paramedics declared him deceased.

Mrs Barr said: "He was a happy go lucky child and used to play rugby. In adulthood he enjoyed socialising and going out for a pint. He was a quiet, friendly person.

"He was a big lad and enjoyed his food, especially a pizza or kebab."

In his summing up, Mr Cohen said: "I accept the expert's evidence that the pathology is such that it's more likely than not his death was caused by a medical abnormality rather than the use of cocaine, although that may have contributed."

He concluded his death was a result of "congenital heart disease contributed to by cocaine use".

"His family are very much in my thoughts and I extend my sincerest condolences," he said.

Following his death, Mr Barr's many friends rallied round to support his family with a "handlebarr" moustache-growing challenge. They raised £1,235.