Coroner Says Dad's Death Should Be Warning To Bodybuilding World About Use Of Steroids

A coroner has said a man’s tragic death should serve as a warning to the bodybuilding community about the risk of steroids. Ben Harnett was just 37 when he was found dead at his home in Guide Post, Northumberland, in February. An inquest at North Sheilds heard how dad-of-one Harnett – described by his family as a ‘friendly giant’ and a ‘hard-working family man’ died from ‘self-inflicted injuries whilst influenced by steroids‘.

Harnett had been married for less than a year, and was a doting dad to his five-month-old daughter Gracie.

Credit: NCJ Media

Coroner Eric Armstrong said: “He was proud of his body, but became ‘over-proud’ and in attempting to make the most of his body, began to use steroids.” The inquest heard how Harnett had once come second in the Mr England contest, and had been preparing for a bodybuilding competition at the time of his death. His father, Ben Senior, had gone to his son’s home on 2 February and raised the alarm when he didn’t get an answer from him.

According to the post-mortem report, there was ‘evidence of steroid misuse, commonly seen in association with bodybuilding’. It added that steroids are ‘known to be associated with mood disorders’ and the ‘depressive effects can last for a year’.

Ben with wife Emma and his family.

Credit: NCJ Media

Armstrong said: “I’m quite sure that steroid-taking, combined with the use of cocaine, has been a factor in Ben’s death. “I’m satisfied that the wounds were self-inflicted, I’m not satisfied that he committed them with a clear thought process. I believe his mindset was drastically affected.”

The coroner concluded by saying: “Ben Harnett, whilst influenced by steroid misuse and cocaine abuse, took his own life by self inflicted injuries. “I sincerely hope that if nothing else, Ben’s death reverberates around the bodybuilding world and people realise the risks they are taking. “This is the loss of a life that shouldn’t have happened.”

Credit: Ben Harnett/Instagram

Harnett was raised in Choppington, Northumberland and attended the village’s nursery and infant school, before moving over to Mowbray Primary School.

As a youngster, he helped out with the family’s milk business by carrying out deliveries before lessons at Bedlington Station High, which is now known as Bedlington Academy. Mum Tish said: “It’s devastating, our lives will never be the same again. Losing a child as parents is not the way it should be.

“There will never be another Ben. I’ll never be the same without him.”

Credit: NCJ Media

After leaving school, Harnett had a brief stint with the fusiliers before he trained to become a dump truck driver, enjoying several roles around the north east – including his latest position with Banks Mining. However, Harnett’s real passion was working out at the gym and competing in bodybuilder competitions, with trophies flooding in from 2008 onwards.

Credit: Ben Harnett/Instagram

Tish, 62, continued: “That was his passion, he loved doing it.

“It took dedication for him to prepare for each show. It was his release from working the long hours.” Dad Ben said: “Some people like having a drink.

For Ben, he enjoyed the gym. It was his life.” Harnett enjoyed eight months of married life with Emma, 24, and daughter Gracie.

Tish said: “Emma was his world. He was family-orientated, he loved being with all of us.” Dad Ben added: “He loved being here all the time.

“He posted about Gracie on Facebook nearly every day because he was so proud of her.”

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