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A businessman and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights who gained a following after successfully appearing on Dragon’s Den was found dead with an apparent suicide note tucked inside his dressing gown.
Drew Cockton was praised for his work calling on other ambitious entrepreneurs to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff to be “their true and authentic selves”.
Mr Cockton, founder of the North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards, tragically died just hours after bringing the “LGBTQ+ Oscars” to Liverpool.
The owner of luxury fragrance brand Owen Drew, Drew gained a following after appearing on Dragon’s Den in 2021 with the “world’s most expensive candle” – a hand-made, 24-carat gold display with “ridiculously expensive oils”. He secured a £50,000 investment from Touker Suleyman.
Mr Cockton was found dead at his Claughton home on Saturday, October 22 last year, reports the Liverpool Echo, just a few hours after holding the second LGBTQ+ Business Awards ceremony at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. An apparent suicide note was found tucked inside his dressing gown, signed with a love heart.
A post-mortem found he had died of a massive overdose of prescription painkillers and antipsychotic drugs. At his inquest today, coroner Andre Rebello said: “The amount of medication that would have been taken precludes this being an inadvertent overdose.”
Mr Cockton, 36, was last seen alive at around 3am that Saturday, when he was described as being “heavily intoxicated” from a night out following the awards show. He was found at his home a 12.45pm with “a number of glasses around him containing gin and tonic”. A hand-written note, also found at the scene, was believed to have been penned by Mr Cockton at an earlier date due to the high levels of alcohol in his system.
Mr Rebello said: “The deficiencies with such notes are they are never time and date stamped, and no one would have any idea as to when such a note was written. However, part of the note, the first page, appears to be thought through. Certainly, the note appears to be that from a very loving, caring person who is trying to explain what is going on, and at some stage it would appear there was some intent of fatal harm. Whether it was written that night or previously, I don’t know.”
He handed down a conclusion of death by misadventure, adding: “Drew was highly intoxicated on the morning of October 22, such that it would not have been able to form fatal intent. A post-mortem did not reveal any defence marks or signs of violence such as would be apparent by medication being forced upon him, so therefore it’s more likely than not that he inadvertently died as a result of taking the medication he had been prescribed.”
Mr Cockton dived into the world of business aged just 22, when he opened a hotel on Manchester’s famous Canal Street. However the venture lasted only 12 months, as he explained on Dragon’s Den he “worked so hard he made (himself) ill” and suffered a breakdown, and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In 2016, he started a new business making and selling candles on social media, and soon amassed a small empire selling natural soy wax candles, soy wax melts and luxurious mists from his premises in Birkenhead, with a yearly turnover of £750k.
He was also a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, organising the first ever North West LGBTQ+ Business Awards in 2021. Just one week before his death, he spoke to the Liverpool Echo about the importance of standing up for the community in the face of rising hate crimes.
He said: “It’s extremely important to celebrate the community. Sadly, hate crime is on the rise and we saw those awful homophobic attacks in our city last summer. Events like these, as well as Pride, show the bigots we’re here and we won’t be intimidated. With all of the general doom and gloom, it’s so important to celebrate our hardworking business owners and entrepreneurs and as one myself, I understand the difficulties we’re all facing.”
Following his death, his mum Kate Drew said: “We are truly, utterly heartbroken to have to tell you that our beloved Drew Peter George Cockton (my gorgeous boy) died peacefully at home yesterday. We are devastated beyond belief. Life is never, ever going to be the same again. Rest Peacefully darling boy.”
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