Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Inquest: Lethal Cockail Causes Aunt's Death; Tests Reveal Combined Effect of Drugs Had Been Deadly

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Inquest: Lethal Cockail Causes Aunt's Death; Tests Reveal Combined Effect of Drugs Had Been Deadly

Article excerpt

Byline: NEIL McKAY

THE tragic aunt of meningitis sufferer Tilly Lockey turned to drink to combat depression after her marriage failed, an inquest was told yesterday. Drink contributed to the bizarre double death of Helen Swan and friend James McAndrew, who were found slumped on the sofa of her home in John Street, Consett, County Durham, shortly before midnight on July 10 last year.

At first it was thought Helen, 36, and James, 52, had succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while police also launched a murder-style inquiry but quickly ruled out foul play.

Toxicology tests later were to show that Helen, sister of Tilly's mum Sarah, and James, from Foster Street, Consett, had consumed a lifethreatening combination of painkillers, drink and antidepressant medication shortly before their deaths.

Their bodies were found by Lee Grimes, who the hearing was told was a registered drug addict, and who described himself to police as Helen's partner.

Mr Grimes had been with Helen the previous day when the pair went to collect prescription medication and to buy alcohol from the nearby Spar supermarket.

Mr McAndrew, of Foster Street, Consett, joined Helen later that evening and the pair took methadone, codeine, fluoxetine and diazepam and drank a mixture of vodka, wine and cider.

Pathologist Dr Mark Egan told the inquest in Chester-le-Street that the combined effect of the drugs had been deadly. He said: "Miss Swan has taken a cocktail of drugs and alcohol of a quality such that with each of them she could easily have survived but combined together it was lethal, it certainly would have killed me.

"People do take a cocktail of this level just to get high. Sometimes they take some more as they start to come down and begin to feel bad."

He said he was surprised that Mr McAndrew, who was "a big man in relatively good health", had also succumbed but "on the balance of probability" the combined effect of the drink and drugs had killed him too. …

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