Sad new details emerge about Dustin Martin father's cause of death

Dustin Martin's father Shane, pictured here before his death in New Zealand in 2021.
Dustin Martin's father Shane died in New Zealand in 2021. Image: AAP/Getty

A coroner has revealed that the father of AFL star Dustin Martin died of cardiovascular disease, with drugs and steroids found in his system.

Shane Martin was found dead in his home in New Zealand in December last year at the age of 54.

His exact cause of death had remained a mystery until Sunday, when a coroner released its findings into how he died.

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An autopsy found evidence of heart disease blocking his arteries, which sparked a fatal heart attack.

Post-mortem tests found that Mr Martin's heart was enlarged and 600g at the time of his death - about double the size of an average male's heart.

A toxicology report also revealed on Sunday that Mr Martin had been using steroids at the time of his death.

“There was evidence in the urine for the use of the steroids trenbolone and nandrolone,” the coroner’s report stated.

“Trenbolone is used on livestock to promote muscle growth and appetite. Nandrolone are anabolic steroids.”

Toxicology reports had earlier found that Mr Martin was also using anti-depression and pain relief medications amitriptyline and azathioprine.

“Toxicology results … confirmed amitriptyline in Mr Martin’s blood. Amitriptyline is used to treat depression and pain," the coroner's report added.

“Nortriptyline, an active metabolite of amitriptyline as well as a prescription drug in its own right, was also confirmed in the blood.

“The approximate level of amitriptyline appeared to be consistent with normal use.”

Shane Martin and Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, pictured here watching the AFL grand final in 2019.
Shane Martin and Australian actress Rachel Griffiths watch the AFL grand final in 2019. (AAP Image/Brett Phibbs)

Police have confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances involved, and the coroner chose not to open an inquiry into Mr Martin's death.

Dr Jarrod Gilbert - who co-wrote Mr Martin's biography ‘A Rebel in Exile' - revealed earlier this year that he was found “face down on his kitchen floor”.

Mr Martin had been living in his native New Zealand since 2016 after being deported from Australia on character grounds.

Dr Gilbert said Shane had been "worn down" by living away from his three sons - Dustin, Bronson and Tyson.

“People who met Shane for the first time were immediately disarmed by him,” he wrote in the NZ Herald.

“They liked him and were drawn to him. He was warm, friendly and generous. He kept a drawer full of lollies for kids who visited his house.

“He also carried the burden of great bitterness; a bitterness that ate away at him.

“A bitterness that stabbed at him from the moment he woke, chased him throughout the day and invaded his dreams at night.”

Dustin Martin, pictured here in action for the Richmond Tigers against West Coast Eagles.
Dustin Martin in action for the Richmond Tigers against West Coast Eagles. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Dustin Martin devastated after father's death

Mr Martin was previously a top-ranking member of the Rebels motorcycle gang and had his visa cancelled under section 501 of the Australian Immigration Act, which states people can be deported if they have a "substantial" criminal record.

The Richmond Tigers gave Dustin Martin permission to fly to New Zealand to visit his father in April of 2021 when the travel bubble opened.

The pair shared a close bond but had not seen each other for 12 months prior to that visit because of travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a massive challenge, but it is what it is,” Martin said in 2021.

Dustin Martin, pictured here with his Norm Smith and Premiership Medal after the AFL grand final in 2020.
Dustin Martin poses with his Norm Smith and Premiership Medal after the AFL grand final in 2020. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“I love my dad and he’s made me the man I am today. I’ve got full belief he’ll back here to watch us win another flag.

“That’s my dream to be able to have the old man up there (in the grandstand) with the rest of my family and watch the Tiges win another flag.”

In February of 2020, Mr Martin was sent back to New Zealand after flying to Sydney and being detained by Border Force officials.

He was forced to watch Dustin win the 2019 and 2020 premierships from New Zealand.

Earlier this year Dustin took a leave of absence from the Tigers as he dealt with the tragedy.

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