A DISTRAUGHT mother is demanding answers to “many questions” after her grieving son was one of two patients found dead in a mental health hospital.

Former soldier Paul Harden, 25, was discovered in his single room on Taylor Ward in Peasley Cross Hospital at 5am last Friday morning.

He was the father of five-year-old Elliot Harden, from Haydock, who died from a brain tumour in February this year.

A second patient, a 36-year-old man, was also confirmed dead after being found at the same time in a different room by hospital staff carrying out routine observations.

The NHS body managing the hospital says paramedics who were called to the ward treated the men for “suspected drug overdoses” but they could not be revived.

Police are investigating the two patients’ “unexplained deaths” and, after post mortems proved inconclusive, detectives are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

The Star has learned another patient, a man aged 30, was arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug in the hospital before being granted bail.

It is understood the police’s investigation centres on whether prescription drugs were smuggled into the hospital from outside or accessed from within.

Speaking to the Star, Mr Harden’s mother Michelle, from Haydock, said police “do not believe her son’s death is suicide”.

Paul, who served in the army after leaving St Augustine’s secondary school, had been suffering emotionally since Elliot’s death.

He had been an inpatient for a week at the ward that treats people with acute mental illnesses.

Mrs Harden, a mother-of-four, told the Star: “I wish I had never let him go onto that ward. He would have been better staying in his bedroom at home.

“They are not allowed a phone charger or a razor in there (for safety reasons) with them but are they searching visitors when they go in there?

“I don’t want people thinking Paul was a drug user. Something has gone seriously wrong here. If he wanted to take drugs to kill himself then there are plenty of medications at home, where I have a severely disabled son.

“The painful thing is Paul was getting better. He had stopped eating and lost so much weight and so he went into hospital. But he was improving in there - eating and talking about Elliot, which he had never done before.”

The hospital on Marshalls Cross Road is managed by the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust. Staff, who made the discovery while conducting routine observations of the ward, tried to resuscitate them and dialled emergency crews.

In a statement the organisation – which manages the care of mentally ill patients across St Helens – said: “Police have been informed and we are working with them to assist with their investigations. We have also initiated an initial internal investigation within the Trust.

“We would like to express our condolences to the families of the two men, who have been offered our support during this distressing time.”

An inquest into the patients’ deaths is expected to be opened this week.