'Downward' spiral led to woman's death

A Wigan property developer hit a "downward spiral" which ended in her death in a pub's grounds.

Thirty eight year old solicitor's wife Mrs Gail Smith developed serious liver disease which caused her to battle increasing depression which then pushed her into a decade's heavy drinking.

Over the last four years her alcohol abuse had become so serious she was drinking "two or three bottles of wine a day every day, " the Wigan coroner heard.

Mrs Smith, of Newton Road, Billinge, was found in woodland at the rear of The Mount in Orrell three days after being reported missing by her distraught family.

She had managed to evade a live-in carer – her brother-in-law who was a professional psychiatric auxiliary – arranged by her worried husband Roy Francis Smith.

She had been denied access to money to control her drinking, but it was discovered after her death, that she had secretly applied for a debit card which was found on her which she used at the hotel's cash machine.

Closed circuit television pictures viewed by police recorded her arriving at The Mount mid morning by taxi and then drinking two bottles of wine with a meal before walking out in the direction of the parkland.

Click next page for more ...Pathologists say that she died from a combination of alcohol and the build up of prescription drugs in her body due to her advanced cirrhosis and hepatitis.

But deputy coroner Alan Walsh said that there were no grounds to suggest that she had deliberately attempted to take her life and no deliberate overdose.

Her husband Mr Smith told the hearing that his wife's health had deteriorated to such an extent on the weekend when she went missing that he had made arrangements to take her back to her specialist on the Monday.

He said that Mrs Smith had fought a long battle against liver disease, including spells of treatment at The Priory in Preston, Preston Royal Hospital and The Queens Hospital in Birmingham, which specialises in treating renal failure.

She had been awaiting a transplant but a donor hadn't been found in time.

He said: "She was at one time officially the sickest person in the United Kingdom.

"Before she became ill she was only a social drinker.

"But this condition had a seismic change on her life, it left her extremely weak, her mobility was restricted and she was sleeping for up to 17 hours a day.

"She couldn't even walk upstairs without great pain, effectively she couldn't leave the house on her own.

"Clinical depression set in and we became extremely concerned."

She had been through periods of detoxification, but kept slipping back into drinking.

This, it had now become clear, was being funded by using a duplicate credit card.

Click next page fore more ...He said: "We don't know when she applied for it or when it arrived but the post arrives very early and she must have got up to retrieve it unknown to us.

Her consultant psychiatrist at The Priory Clinic in Preston, Dr MK Rahman, told the hearing: "She was physically very ill but lacked the motivation to stop the drinking.

"She understood her problem and was very scared of the likely consequences. She knew she was suffering from liver failure but didn't have the motivation to give up the alcohol and I was unable to successfully engage her in a therapy programme."

Deputy coroner Mr Walsh said: "This is a very sad story about a lady who was greatly troubled by her liver disease which then led to depression setting in which led her to drink and it was a spiral she was unable to get out of it despite the support and care of her family."

Verdict: Misadventure.