Tragedy of Wigan woman who died on first day of holidays

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A popular Wigan woman suddenly died the night she arrived on a Spanish holiday island after drinking a large amount of alcohol, an inquest heard.


Bolton Coroner’s Court was told how Paula Bishop, from Ince, was found collapsed and unresponsive by her husband Stuart in their apartment room in Fuerteventura.

Bolton Coroners Court

Bolton Coroners Court

The couple had arrived on the island that morning for a break they had been greatly looking forward to and spent the day enjoying a few drinks in the resort’s bars and with their evening meal.

On getting back to the room Mr Bishop told how he “crashed out” but woke suddenly to find Paula, 37, on the floor propped up against a chest of drawers and cold to the touch.

He immediately alerted hotel staff and paramedics were called but tragically all attempts at resuscitation failed.

Paula, of Mount View, was found to have around five times the legal drink-drive limit in her blood which pathologist Dr Naveen Sharma told the inquest was above the level which can provoke fatal toxicity.

Dr Sharma said that when Mr Bishop discovered his wife, some time after midnight on January 20, she was already at a stage where no medical intervention could have saved her.

Assistant coroner Timothy Brennand made it clear that his conclusion alcohol was the significant factor in Paula’s death only referred to a one-off day on the holiday island as there was no pattern of problem drinking or any other alcohol-related issues.

The inquest heard that Paula took some medication for mild anxiety but had no significant physical or mental health problems at all.

Mr Bishop told how they had met while she was working caring for young people with learning difficulties and how last year she had got her “dream job” working in the pharmacy department at Wigan Infirmary.

He said the trip to the Canaries resort was their first as a couple for a while as they had previously gone away with friends.

He said he had no cause for concern about her during the day of their arrival and she had not shown any signs of being heavily intoxicated.

He said when he woke two cups of orange juice had been poured out in case she wanted a drink during the night.

The medical cause of death was pulmonary edema, which is when fluid fills the lungs.

Dr Sharma explained that heavy alcohol consumption can cause breathing to become shallower and shallower and this eventually leads to a coma, multiple organ failure and death.

Investigations by authorities in both Spain and the UK ruled out any suspicious circumstances or third-party involvement.

Mr Brennand said in recording a conclusion of alcohol-related death that it was a tragic case.

He said: “It is not surprising that somebody who was known to be a hard worker took an opportunity to enjoy herself on holiday.

“The real tragedy here is that it may well be both she and her husband failed to appreciate the full extent of the quantity of alcohol taken, because the amount proved to be at levels subsequently revealed to be fatally toxic.

“I hope this has given Mr Bishop some degree of comfort that whatever he chose to do she was at that stage beyond any form of resuscitation.

“This was a single episode of drinking through the course of a single day. It should not be interpreted as anything else.

“I can barely bring myself to imagine the enormity of Mr Bishop’s loss and the shock, disquiet and panic he will have gone through. Until you have experienced it yourself words cannot do justice to it.

“I would like to convey my most profound sympathies to the family.”

Mr Bishop spoke during the inquest of his difficulty coming to terms with Paula’s shockingly sudden death and the family paid tribute to her afterwards.

The statement read: “The family are grateful that the coroner recognises the tragic circumstances of this case and the fact this wasn’t a pattern of drinking.

“What should have been the first day of a well-deserved holiday turned into a nightmare that nobody would wish to experience.

“Paula was a wonderful person and a loving wife, who was full of life.

“We hope that the dangers of drinking abroad, where measures are more liberal and not as controlled, will be considered by people to avoid similar tragedies for others.”