Inverness mum, 38, tragically died in Lancashire house after mix of two drugs proved fatal, inquest heard

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A 38 year old mum-of-three died tragically at a house in St Annes after two different drugs in her system had the combined effect of lowering her blood pressure to a fatal degree, an inquest heard.

Gemma Louise Philip, of Inverness, died unexpectedly at an address on Porritt Place, Blackpool Coroner’s Court was told today.

Mrs Philip, from Inverness, had come to the Fylde coast with her partner to stay at his mum's house, on Porritt Place.

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On the morning of January 14, earlier this year, she had gone to take the dog for a walk to the nearby shops.

When she returned Mrs Philip appeared to be a little unsteady on her feet.

She had decided to take a nap and had fallen asleep in a downstairs room at around noon, where she could be heard lightly snoring.

However, her partner Jamie became concerned after she had fallen silent and, upon checking on her at around 2.30pm, he found that she had died.

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A partially eaten tablet of Oxycodone - a powerful painkiller which can be potentially addictive, was found in her handbag.

Mrs Philip, a retail assistant who lived on Brodie Road, Ness Castle, had been taking the medication after being diagnosed with kidney stones.

Police were called and Sgt Steven McClave, a member of the response team in Lancashire’s West division, attended.

Louise Rae, Assistant Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, read out a statement from Sgt McClave.

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In a report to the coroner, he was able to confirm that Mrs Philip was found dead at the scene, with no visible signs of injury and no indications that there had been any disturbance in the room, or evidence that the scene had been cleaned or tidied, ruling out suspicious circumstances.

The inquest heard that Mrs Philip had suffered bouts of mental health problems in the past and had previously been prescribed antidepressants but at the time of her death she had been in good spirits.

Jamie’s mother had told the coroner’s officer, Deborah Hughes, that Mrs Philip was excited to be in the Blackpool area.

Gemma Mum-of-three Philip died in st Annes, a inquest heardGemma Mum-of-three Philip died in st Annes, a inquest heard
Gemma Mum-of-three Philip died in st Annes, a inquest heard | Third party

Pathologist’s findings

Pathologist Dr Suboda Weerasinghe, who carried out the post mortem at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, listed the cause of death as ‘multi-drug toxicity’.

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Attending the hearing by videolink, he said: “We took a sample of blood and although there was nothing remarkable, there were signs of the painkiller Oxycodone in the blood, a higher than expected amount but not exceptional by itself.

“There was also evidence of cocaine use.”

The post mortem also found a small amount of the drug pregabalin, sometimes used as an antidepressant, but the pathologist said this would not have had any impact on her health.

Asked by the coroner what effect the combination of the painkiller and cocaine had, Dr Weerasinghe replied: “Oxycodone is a painkiller and sedative type of drug which decreases blood pressure.

“So does cocaine, so the two together in combination decrease blood pressure and led to this death, as a result.”

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Asked if it was possible to know when she had used the drugs, he said it was difficult to know, but he said she would have had a “painless death”.

What the coroner decided

Ms Rae summed up: “I am satisfied that Gemma had taken drugs prior to her death and that the combination of the painkiller Oxycodone and cocaine had lowered her blood pressure sufficiently to cause her death.

“On the balance of probability, the short form conclusion is that of drug-related death.”

Ms Rae passed on her condolences to Mrs Philip’s father, Alistair Dingwall, who attended the inquest by videolink from Scotland, and the rest of her family.

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