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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Cumbrian murder-probe death was result of heroin

A pregnant woman whose death sparked a murder inquiry had a deadly level of heroin in her blood, an inquest heard.

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Problems: Demi Burns was hoping to change

Demi Burns, 21, of Newlands Gardens, Workington, was found dead by herpartner Terry Walsh the day after she took drugs at her home.

Mr Walsh was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released without charge.

The inquest was told Miss Burns had been preparing to turn her life around – and was set to give up drugs.

Deputy coroner Robert Chapman heard that Miss Burns, who celebrated her 21st birthday with her family less than two weeks before her death, had a history of mental health problems and started taking drugs at 14.

Post-mortem tests showed substances, including a deadly level of heroin, in her blood.

She died of complex drug toxicity, mainly due to heroin and benzodiazepine.

The inquest heard that Miss Burns was nine weeks pregnant and she and Mr Walsh were planning to stop taking heroin in preparation for the arrival of their child.

In a statement, her cousin Brooke Armstrong said Miss Burns had already chosen baby names and the couple had asked her to be the child’s godmother.

Her mother Tina Burns said: “She was really looking forward to having the baby and being a mum and I believe that would have changed her life around.”

But, the inquest heard, in the days before her death Miss Burns continued to take drugs and the evening before she died she took heroin and Valium at home with Mr Walsh and his friend Stephen Graham.

Mr Graham said Miss Burns got upset later in the evening, becoming paranoid and fearing that Mr Walsh was going to leave her, although Mr Walsh tried to reassure her.

Relatives told the inquest Miss Burns was also worried because she had received a letter saying bailiffs would visit the house to recover about £1,100-worth of overdue court fines.

She was watching TV when Mr Walsh went to bed around 10.30pm.

While he was in bed, she ran a bath but she collapsed in the bathroom.

Mr Walsh found her when he got up about 3.30pm the next day.

He called an ambulance but she had been dead for some time. She was found dead on November 11 last year.

Reports from health professionals showed that Miss Burns, who grew up in Whitehaven, had received treatment over several years from mental health workers and a drugs and alcohol treatment team.

She moved to Workington after Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service helped her get a flat on Harrington Road.

But she had not attended all her appointments with her health workers.

She had a personality disorder and her mother told the inquest she went from one extreme to the other, being good one day and disruptive the next.

Miss Burns was the daughter of Tina Burns and Ian Tweedie and attended St Benedict’s School in Whitehaven and then completed two years of a three-year plumbing course at Lakes College, Lillyhall.

She had a Saturday job working for a plumbing firm and worked at Light Bites in Market Place, Whitehaven, but was unemployed when she died.

Mr Chapman recorded a verdict that Miss Burns died by misadventure.

He said: “I’m sure she didn’t think for a minute that by taking the drugs that night she was going to kill herself. It was just one too many in the circumstances.”

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