Inquest: Exmouth woman had ‘long history’ of alcohol abuse

A disabled alcoholic woman from Brixington choked after taking a cocktail of drink and drugs, an inquest has heard.

Medics said Jane Elizabeth Williams, 49, of Naismith Close, died after she took an overdose of pain-killing and sedative drugs, washed down with alcohol.

The divorced mother was found face down on her bed by her carer and pronounced dead by paramedics after they tried, in vain, to restart her heart.

A pathologist examination of Ms Williams’ body found the level of alcohol in her blood to be 375mg in 100ml – more than four-and-a-half times over the legal drink drive limit.

The medic’s report said the levels of drugs in her system would have acted as a sedative.


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The pathologist report ruled Ms Williams’ cause of death was from ‘aspiration of gastric contents due to combined effects of ethanol, Tramadol [painkiller] and Chlordiazepoxide’ [given for alcohol withdrawal].

Medics said bleeding and fluid on the lungs as a result of the drink and drug mix would have blocked Ms Williams’ airway.

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Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland said Ms Williams had died from the mix of alcohol and drugs, and recorded a verdict of alcohol abuse.

She said: “I am satisfied she died as a consequence of the alcohol abuse with additional drugs.

“My verdict on the balance of probability is alcohol abuse.”

The inquest, at County Hall, Exeter, heard how Ms Williams had a ‘long history’ of alcoholism.

She had suffered alcoholic hepatitis since 1997, began having seizures due to alcohol withdrawal since 2005, as well as other alcohol-related conditions and depression.

She had been living with her male carer at the time of her death, and was ‘upset’ he was soon to be moving out of the premises.

Her carer last saw her alive at 2pm on December 17, and found her face down on the bed when he returned at 8.30pm.

Believing she had passed out from drinking, he tried in vain to rouse her by shaking her awake.

When he failed, he dialled the emergency services and was advised by the operator to move her onto the floor and begin CPR.

When paramedics arrived they tried for 20 minutes to restart Ms Williams’ heart.

An injection of adrenalin failed to kick-start her heart and she was pronounced dead at 9.08pm on December 17, 2010.

Her carer told police she ‘may have committed suicide’ because she was feeling ‘depressed and low’.

Officers searching the property found a ‘quantity’ of prescription drugs, the inquest heard.

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