Police worker cocaine overdose

News story
News story

A CORONER has blasted the scourge of drugs in our community after a woman’s tragic death.

Nikola Bradford, a communications officer with Greater Manchester Police for the past eight years, was found in early December collapsed at home in the darkness by her worried mum after she had failed to return calls and texts. The 36-year-old was said to have been profoundly affected by the death of her father in a road accident when she was young, causing bouts of depression.

Nikola Bradford

Nikola Bradford

And she had also become addicted to the painkiller Nurofen Plus – accidently overdosing on them twice – to counter chronic back pain and regular migraine attacks.

But a pathologist found that Ms Bradford had been killed by taking a fatal amount of cocaine, with prescribed medicines found to be at only “therapeutic levels” in her bloodstream.

A post-mortem examination also showed that she had taken amphetamine ecstasy on the evening before she was found.

Her devastated family and medical professionals knew about her dependency on Nurofen Plus and were helping her take part in counselling and treatment to beat it.

Sister Erica Bradford told a Bolton inquest that Ms Bradford, a single woman who lived alone, had told her that she had experimented with cannabis as a teenager.

But family members, medics and mental health specialists had “no idea at all” that she had ever used illegal Class A substances.

Indeed Wigan Coroner Alan Walsh, who recorded a verdict that Nikola died because of “misuse of illicit drugs,” speculated that her physical inexperience with such substances could have contributed to the heart trauma that claimed her life.

He said he was immensely saddened by her death and warned about the devastating affect drugs continue to wreak across the borough.

Mr Walsh said that it would always remain a mystery just where and when Ms Bradford, of Bedford Square, Leigh, had found the access to the black market drugs which killed her.

But what he found certain was that vulnerable people who found themselves with a momentary need to take such substances, would be seized upon by drugs dealers who would provide the drugs for them to take.

Mr Walsh added: “With the experience I have gained here as coroner, sitting here, on many many occasions, it is now extremely unlikely that the source of the drugs which killed Nikola will now ever be found.

“But I have found that they are readily available in the world in which we live and if someone wants to obtain these drugs, then these drugs, which can have such tragic consequences, are available to them.

“May be she would not have realised just what quantities of the drugs may have affected her.”

Her tearful mum Mrs Dianne Westwell, of Hand Lane in Leigh said after the hearing that Nikola’s death had been “such a tragic waste of a young life.”

She told the coroner that she and her daughter had been swimming at the Sports Village pool just days before her death and her mood had seemed quite normal.

Although Ms Bradford had battled depression and was being treated for it by her GP, Dr John Coleman, she had never expressed an intention to take her own life.

Because of her addiction to Nurofen painkillers she would often travel out of the area to buy packets from chemists where she wasn’t known to avoid raising suspicions.

The hearing was told that ms Bradford had complained of the “stress” of her job with GMP and in her darker moods, that civillian police colleagues were “out to get her.”