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Published: 12:50, 23 July 2014 |
Updated: 13:21, 23 July 2014
A stash of 80 syringes was found at the home of tragic Peaches Geldof along with £500 of heroin, an inquest heard today.
The 25-year-old mother-of-two died of a heroin overdose at her house in Wrotham, coroner Roger Hatch ruled.
The hearing at Gravesend's Old Town Hall heard Peaches - the daughter of Faversham-based Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof - had been off drugs for two-and-a-half years and was being treated for the addiction with methadone.
In a tragic echo of her mother Paula Yates' accidental overdose death 14 years earlier, Peaches was discovered dead by her husband Tom Cohen in a bedroom at their home in Fairseat Lane, Wrotham, near Vigo, on April 7.
Her methadone prescription had been reduced in November last year, the inquest was told.
But in February, her husband discovered texts on his wife's phone that alerted him to the fact she was using drugs again.
She revealed her stash had been hidden in the loft and she flushed the drugs down the toilet.
But coroner Roger Hatch was told that following her death, police discovered nearly 80 syringes and a bag of heroin.
The heroin was found to be of 61% quality – considerably higher than the average street quality of 26%. The high quality of the drug was considered to be a factor in her death.
The inquest heard a report by forensic scientist Emma Harris said a high level of morphine was found in Peaches' blood and other readings suggested she died shortly after taking heroin.
Dr Harris' report said: "Persons taking heroin on a regular basis develop a tolerance to the drug, and such individuals can use doses that would be toxic, or fatal, to people with no tolerance.
"However, tolerance to heroin appears to be lost fairly rapidly when users cease to use the drug, and deaths commonly occur in people who have previously been tolerant and have returned to using heroin."
Home Office pathologist Dr Peter Jerreat was first to give evidence, saying a "considerable amount" of morphine that had come from heroin had been found in her system. He gave the cause of death as "opiate intoxication".
Thomas Cohen then spoke, but only to respond to statements read out by Mr Hatch.
Mr Hatch said: "It's right that Peaches Geldof had been a heroin addict. Is that correct?"
Mr Cohen responded: "Yes."
Mr Hatch added: "She was having weekly drug tests and she was saying they were negative. You now wonder if that was accurate.
"You had not seen her taking drugs in the house but she was finding it difficult coming off methadone.
"In February you found texts indicating drug use and you asked her if there were drugs in the house. She retrieved heroin from the loft and then disposed of it down the toilet.
"Drugs were later found in the house in a clothes bag and you were not aware of that."
Reading from a prepared statement was Kent Police's DCI Paul Fotheringham, who described the scene to the inquest.
He said: "Peaches was wearing a grey dress and a long sleeved striped top. Peaches was located perched on the side edge of this bed with her left leg hanging down to the floor with her right foot tucked underneath her.
"She was slumped forward onto her front with her left arm draped over an open laptop computer..." - DCI Paul Fotheringham
"She was slumped forward onto her front with her left arm draped over an open laptop computer.
"Underneath Peaches body was an iPhone, a packet of cigarettes and a pair of black tights with a knot tied in them - which can be used as a tourniquet during the injection intake of heroin.
"Also on the bed was a small clear coloured cap thought to have come from a syringe. Underneath the bed a dessert spoon was located with visible burn marks on the underside and a small amount of a brown residue on the upper side.
"Next to the bed was a cardboard box containing sweets and a capped syringe. It was noted that there was a small amount of a brown fluid left in the main chamber and another small amount of fluid in the cap.
"This residue was tested by forensic scientists who confirmed that the brown residue found does contain traces of heroin."
The main discovery was a black cloth bag stored in a cupboard over the bedroom door. Inside was a plastic bag tied together by a dark hair band and contained a brown powder.
Later examined by a forensic scientist Dr Peter Cain, he confirmed the powder was 6.91 grams of diamorphine, more commonly known as heroin, with a purity of 61%.
Also found in the bag was 47.5 grams of citric acid which is used in the preparation of heroin. The bag also contained 34 medical syringes with some containing traces of a brown coloured residue.
There were also 45 packaged and sealed syringes, alcohol wipes and cotton buds and two cards advertising the Westminster Needle Exchange.
There is an on-going police investigation to establish who supplied the heroin to Peaches and there have been no arrests so far.
DCI Fotheringham concluded: "The post mortem found evidence of recent puncture marks on the inside of both elbows and on her left hand; the toxicology indicates a fatal level of heroin in the body. The pathologist states cause of death to be opiate intoxication.
"When considering all of the above information, I, as the senior investigating officer, conclude that Peaches Geldof-Cohen died of a heroin overdose."
Coroner Roger Hatch concluded the inquest by saying: "By November Mrs Geldof-Cohen had been free of heroin and her methadone had been reduced.
"By early February, Mr Cohen had found messages on her telephone that indicated she was using drugs and she retrieved the drugs from the loft and disposed of them down the toilet. It is relevant that the heroin had a level of purity at 61% which is far above the normal street levels. This is clearly a factor.
"A person who has an addiction builds up a tolerance to the drug but that appears to be lost fairly rapidly when users cease to use the drug with it becoming toxic or fatal in this case.
"They are saying that history has been repeated here but that's not so as she had previously stopped using heroin in November.
"Given the findings of the post mortem, I'm left with no alternative that the death of Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof-Cohen was drugs related."
Peaches Geldof's death was a cruel echo of her own mother's tragic fate more than a decade earlier.
Paula Yates, 41, was found dead at her home in London of a heroin overdose.
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