A homeless man who died in a Rotorua motel during lockdown had been told by medical experts weeks before his death he needed to stop living in a tent for the sake of his health.
Rotorua man Karaan Roberts, 53, spent only a few weeks with a proper roof over his head but his pre-existing heart condition and breathing difficulties overtook him and he died.
Details about Roberts' death have been released by a coroner which showed he died on April 19 at Tuscany Villas on Fenton St from a pre-existing heart condition.
Coroner Donna Llewell said in her finding that a toxicology test showed Roberts had methamphetamine, amphetamine, cannabis and THC in his blood and urine.
The actual cause of death was recorded as ischaemic heart disease and significant occlusive coronary atherosclerosis.
Roberts was of Māori descent and had been living at the Tuscany Villas as part of a programme housing homeless and transient people during the national Covid-19
level 4 lockdown period.
His nephew was also living there and had otherwise been living with his uncle off and on during the past five years in a tent around Gisborne and Rotorua, the finding said.
Roberts had a history of emphysema and had had breathing problems with a unique cough for the past five years, it said.
In March 2020, Roberts went to hospital with a worsening cough, sore throat and tightness in the chest. He was not in respiratory distress and was discharged with medication.
The finding said he was advised not to live in a tent any longer and due to his health, he needed to be in warmer and drier conditions.
Roberts then stayed at the Rotorua homeless shelter for a time but became transient again before being placed in the motel during the lockdown period.
On April 16, he was suffering shortness of breath. An ambulance was called and they treated him for 45 minutes. Following that event, he had a phone consultation with his doctor and was prescribed more of his inhalers. He was using these quite frequently before his death, the coroner's finding said.
On April 19 early in the morning, Roberts left his motel room and was at the top of some stairs leading down to a carpark. A contracting security guard noticed him about 4.20am because of his "grunting noises".
Realising he was struggling to breathe, he went to his aid. Another security
guard helped and together they got Roberts to the bottom of the stairs, the finding said.
Roberts told them he "needed oxygen" and he was attempting to use his inhaler. His
breathing deteriorated so the guards placed him into the recovery position. He stopped breathing and they started CPR and called emergency services.
Ambulance officers arrived and continued CPR for about 20 minutes but Roberts could not be resuscitated.
Police attended the incident but there were no suspicious circumstances.
At the time of his death, Tiny and Lynley Deane, from Visions of a Helping Hand Trust which ran the night shelter and Tuscany Villas, said the homeless community was saddened by the man's death.
They said he had at least enjoyed the comforts of living in a motel for the last few weeks of his life and had been happy during that time.
Tiny Deane told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday Roberts' death highlighted the need for housing.
"It (homelessness) can kill you out in the weather. Some choose it as a lifestyle but it's not something you want to be doing."
Tiny Deane said Roberts had been engaging well with the programmes being offered at Tuscany Villas.
When asked if he was surprised Roberts had methamphetamine and cannabis in his system when he died considering it was more than three weeks into lockdown, Tiny Deane said the man Roberts had been rooming with had been kicked out of Tuscany Villas for bringing drugs into the motel.