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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Alcoholic mother of two took own life, Cumbrian inquest told

A mother-of-two who was found dead near a river had been battling a long-standing alcohol addiction, an inquest has heard.

River Ehen photo
River Ehen

Victoria Smith, of Kier Hardie Avenue, Cleator Moor, was found dead near the River Ehen at Wath Brow on May 22.

An inquest in to her death concluded she had taken her own life.

Coroner David Roberts heard that the 37-year-old had sought help for her alcohol dependency, but her addiction was exacerbated by numerous difficulties in the month before her death.

He said: “The picture is one of someone who had been trying to make a real effort but clearly things went wrong in May. There was a great deal of pressures on this young woman in the lead up to May 22.

“I am satisfied she was doing her best to overcome her addiction. But she got to the point of despair on this day and deliberately took her own life.”

Toxicology reports showed Miss Smith, who was found hanged, had 187mgms of alcohol in 100 mls of blood, which is equivalent to being two and a half times over the drink-drive limit.

The report stated the alcohol, along with the normal amount of the prescribed anti-depressant Citalopram, was “likely to have a detrimental effect on motor and cognitive functions”.

Dr Guy Bickerton, of the Cleator Moor Health Centre, said Miss Smith had “long-standing problems of alcohol dependency” and also suffered from depression and anxiety.

The inquest heard Miss Smith was receiving help from two drug and alcohol addiction and recovery services – Unity and Addaction. She attended meetings, but in the weeks prior to her death suffered financial difficulties and a family bereavement, which resulted in her missing appointments and turning to alcohol.

Miss Smith was found by friend Brenda Woodburn, and two dog walkers who were on the riverbank. Emergency services were called but Miss Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs Woodburn said she had seen her friend the day before. “She didn’t seem to be despondent, she wasn’t upbeat, but she was okay.”

The inquest heard Mrs Woodburn saw her friend on a daily basis and had seen changes in Miss Smith’s life.

She said: “She used to get into trouble but she quietened down. She was a nice kid, but she was troubled. She was desperate for help.”

Mrs Woodburn said Miss Smith had been upset as she’d wanted to move into a new home in Whitehaven, but plans had fallen through.

“She was becoming despondent because she wanted to move forward but there seemed to be stumbling blocks along the way,” she added.

The inquest heard Miss Smith was a divorced mother-of-two. She was the sister of Andrew and daughter of Robert and Sheila.

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