Coroner rules woman's death as self-inflicted

Monday 10th July 2017 3:11 pm
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Police and Coastguard on scene in Dartmouth in March ()

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Woman found dead in public toilets died of a drugs overdose, a coroner has found.

Michelle Chambers, who despite not being officially married had changed her surname by deed poll to be the same as her long-term partner Gary Chambers, was reported missing on Tuesday, February 28, but was found dead in the toilets next to Coronation Park, Dartmouth, on Wednesday morning.

Ms Chambers, who was born in Oldham on October 18, 1981, was pronounced dead by a paramedic on March 1, this year. She lived in Dartmouth and worked as a health care assistant.

Dr Riley, who performed the post mortem on Ms Chambers, said that toxicology tests showed she had high levels of paracetamol, codeine, amitriptyline - an antidepressant, and tramadol - a painkiller, in her system.

The doses of amitriptyline and tramadol were enough to be fatal individually. He recorded the cause of her death as a drugs overdose.

Coroner Ian Arrow read a statement from Roger Dunn, a friend of one of the women that Ms Chambers and a senior carer looked after. Mr Dunn said he is a friend of Maria Hume, whose health deteriorated around a year ago, meaning she had carers come in to look after her twice a day.

Ms Hume owns a old hotel on South Embankment, which has been turned into flats, meaning she receives rent from those flats and employs an accountant.

The accountant, David Hill, contacted Mr Dunn in mid-February looking for Santander bank statements for Ms Hume that he could not find. Once they were sent from the bank, there were a number of ATM withdrawals for between £100-£300 that could not be accounted for as Ms Hume had “no major outgoings”, according to Mr Dunn.

He said the carers could access the bank account, but that they would get a receipt and leave it in the flat. He said police officers came to see Ms Hume on February 28.

Torquay Coroner’s Court also heard evidence from Dr Adam Morris, Ms Chamber’s GP, who said that he would like to pay his “personal condolences” to her friends and family and said she worked “tirelessly” and became a care professional that doctors could “trust and rely on her judgement”.

He said that she was being prescribed drugs at the time of her death, including tramadol and amitriptyline.

Detective Sergeant Andy Turner, who attended the toilet block on March 1, said it was “normal procedure” for the police to attend any scene with a sudden death. He said he forced open the door of the public toilet and found Ms Chambers “cold to the touch” with numerous empty blister packs of medication around her and two notes.

When asked whether there was anything suspicious about her death, he said “nothing”.

At Monday’s inquest, Mr Arrow then recorded Ms Chamber’s death as “self-inflicted” and told her father, who was present at the hearing, that she was “well respected and highly regarded”.

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