A young mother accidentally drank herself to death after a cocktail of wine, gin and vodka along with cocaine and prescription drugs on a second date with her new boyfriend.
Sinead Lowry, 23, was at Daniel Birkett’s housewarming party when she suffered organ failure after crashing out on a sofa.
She was found unresponsive the next morning by Mr Birkett and died an hour later in hospital as tests showed she was more than three times over the limit.
Police initially investigated the tragedy as murder amid fears Miss Lowry had a head wound but a post-mortem exam showed she had no physical injures and there were no suspicious circumstances.
An inquest heard how the party loving mum-of-one had just begun been dating 26-year old Mr Birkett when he invited her to a party at his new home in Preston, Lancs.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard McCutcheon, who led the investigation into her death, told the Preston hearing: ”Mr Birkett said he met Sinead the previous Wednesday and Friday May 15 was the second time he met her and said that was a date.
”He said about 5pm she came to his flat in a taxi which he paid for and said she had with her a key from the Wednesday before.
She brought with her a bottle of vodka and half a bottle of wine and when they finished that they went to Bargain Booze and bought a bottle of gin.
“He stated that he arranged for a friends to visit his address to see his new house as he had recently moved in. His friend did come to the address but came with four other men.
“Daniel Birkett and Sinead met the friend at the Bargain Booze to direct them to the address and he said they had bought beer, pizza and drugs to his house.
”He was in Sinead’s company throughout the evening and was aware she was taking drugs, he said they were not forced on her and she took a line of cocaine which was brought by one of the males. She also took her own prescription drugs.
“He was adamant that no money was exchanged for the drugs. At some stage he said the males left and he and Sinead fell asleep on the sofa. He woke and found her slumped next to him and realised she was not breathing.’
“Text messages were sent between Sinead and her sister. Analysis of those showed that Sinead and Daniel Birkett were getting on well with each other and there were no issues between them.
“She told her sister she was having a party at the flat and she was asking her to come to the party. The texts also show that she was drinking a lot and willingly taking drugs. That’s my analysis and interpretation of them.”
Forensic pathologist, Dr Brian Rodgers, said tests on Miss Lowry showed she had 288 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit for driving is 80mg.
He also found traces of cocaine in her system along with diazepam she used for panic attacks and also two other prescription drugs.
Dr Rodgers added: “None of these drugs are present in high levels and none are at fatal levels on their own – but when you combine them all, the effects are much worse and alcohol has that effect as well.
“Unfortunately their combined effect has led to her death. She would have slipped very peacefully away.”
Sally Myerscough, a support worker who knew Miss Lowry, said: ”She just liked to enjoy herself and loved going out with her sister. She was going out and drinking but no more than she had done previously.
“She would come in and was visibly drunk sometimes but a lot of the young people do that. There was nothing out of the ordinary, she was looking forward to the future.”
Recording a misadventure verdict coroner, Dr James Adeley said Miss Lowry’s death was down to respiratory failure caused by ‘acute alcohol toxicity’ followed by intake of drugs.
He added: “Dr Rodgers explained the cause of death as being due to a combination of drugs and for this alcohol is a drug. It has effects on people and depresses your ability to breathe.
“This was a high level for a 23-year-old and the combination of all of them have caused Sinead to stop breathing.”