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Methadone user took fatal ‘concoction’ of drugs

17:12 12 May 2014

Alison Cattanach.

Alison Cattanach.


Inquest heard the 47-year-old argued with her partner before being found unconcious later that day.

A BIDEFORD woman who was addicted to alcohol and methadone killed herself ‘while the balance of her mind was disturbed’, a coroner has concluded.

Alison Cattanach, 47, was found at her home in Beach Road, Westward Ho! having taken a ‘concoction’ of pills.

Alison, who was prescribed methadone, had been living with her partner of more than 20 years, Mark Barlow, when she took her own life on March 20, 2013.

In a statement Mr Barlow said he and Alison had argued ‘verbally’ that morning and she had gone into the kitchen when he fell back to sleep.

When he awoke that afternoon he found her lying on the floor of their bedsit but said he had assumed she was asleep there and hadn’t wanted to get back in bed.

It was only when he saw empty pill packets on the kitchen counter he checked and found she was not breathing, so he called 999 and started CPR.

Alison’s sister Jacqui Simpson said Alison and Mr Barlow’s relationship was ‘not normal’ and when they first got together Alison began taking heroin.

The inquest heard Alison has visited her doctor with bruises several times and claimed she had been abused by her partner, who she never named.

Mr Barlow was questioned by police following Alison’s death but denied ever hurting her and no prosecution was ever brought against him.

In a statement he told the inquest: “I would have done anything for her, she was my world. I feel lost without her.”

A post mortem found a number of bruises on Alison’s body, which pathologist Amanda Jefferies described as both old and ‘fresh’.

Dr Jefferies said these could have been a result of Alison falling while under the influence of drink, caused by a third person or as a result of a fit as Alison suffered from epilepsy.

After hearing the evidence, coroner John Tomalin said: “I have taken into account her low mood, as described by the doctors, and the fact she was on antidepressants; her history of drug and alcohol abuse, though no alcohol was found in her system in the post mortem.

“The note she left her sister saying she ‘couldn’t take any more’ and the quantity of tablets Alison ingested that we know were beyond any therapeutic range.

“Therefore as a result I am proposing to record that Alison took her own life.”

Mr Tomalin said he did not think it was an ‘entirely rational decision’ and added: “I think she was probably in some form of despair.”


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