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Morphine poisoning death of Eccles former nurse Marion Harris was an accident, coroner rules

By David Gazet

A family have paid tribute to a brave Eccles grandmother who never lost hope in her battle against chronic pain.

An inquest into the death of Marion Harris on Wednesday heard how in March the 57-year-old died from morphine poisoning in the kitchen of her home in Mackenders Close – the same day she was due to see her newborn grandson for the first time.

The former Maidstone Hospital nurse was forced to retire early due to health problems that caused her to suffer severe stomach pain.

Marion Harris. Picture: Mike Godfrey.
Marion Harris. Picture: Mike Godfrey.

The mum-of-three had difficulty sleeping, suffered from depression and previously had sporadic epileptic seizures.

In 2013 she took an overdose of prescription medicines, but the court heard from family who said this was a cry for help and she had no intention to end her life.

In addition, the hearing was told Mrs Harris was looking forward to new surgery that could help reduce her pain.

Giving evidence at Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone, her husband, Neil Harris, said his wife had fallen asleep while creating a card for her grandson the night before her death. After trying to wake her, he decided to allow her to sleep.

He found her the following morning.

The inquest was at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone
The inquest was at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone

Pathologist Dr David Rouse gave the cause of death as morphine poisoning, with chronic pancreatitis and epilepsy as secondary causes.

A relatively large quantity of morphine, a prescription painkiller, was found in Mrs Harris’ system, however, not at a level necessarily fatal to someone who had been taking the drug for some time.

Ian Wade QC, assistant coroner, ruled the death accidental.

Mike Godfrey, Mrs Harris’s son, paid tribute to his mum as a woman who always looked after others before herself.

He said: “Mum had a troubled time in her later years but always kept going for her children and her nine grandchildren. They were her life and her reason to never give up.

“We have taken mum back to Salisbury to be with her mum and dad in their final resting place together.”

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