Widow’s fatal drug overdose

A WIDOW used morphine that had been prescribed for her late husband, to end her own life at her Rawmarsh home.

Kathleen Sloan, 62, nursed her husband Peter up to his death in December 2010, then began drinking and smoking heavily.

At a Rotherham inquest, Mrs Sloan’s brother, Michael Underwood of McManus Avenue, Rawmarsh, told how his sister had “let herself go” after she lost Peter, a former crane driver.

He said his sister, who suffered from epilepsy, emphysema and atheroma, was prescribed anti-depressants two weeks after Peter died, and was “entirely different” until she ceased taking them and became “worse than ever”.

In March last year Mrs Sloan fell and fractured her femur, resulting in a short stay in Rotherham District General Hospital.

Her brother was there on her return to her bungalow on Renville Close, on March 18, when she seemed “agitated”. But the next day she was out when he called. The inquest heard she stayed with her neighbour until 10pm, but was then heard crashing about her flat in the early hours.

On Sunday, March 20, her brother and cousin Cedric found Mrs Sloan’s body bent on her settee, by a bowl of vomit.

Consultant pathologist Prof John Lee said very high levels of morphine were found in Mrs Sloan’s system at autopsy, and a small amount of alcohol. Mrs Sloan had never been prescribed morphine, he said, so crucially had no tolerance to the drug. He gave the cause of death as morphine overdose, with ischaemic heart disease as a secondary factor. Mrs Sloan had been prone to depression for some years, and had spoken of wanting to end her life before, the inquest heard.

District coroner Nicola Mundy said that although Mrs Sloan left no note, she had had to “take steps” to find the morphine left unused by her late husband. She said: “My view is that Mrs Sloan did take the morphine with the intention to end her life”, and recorded a verdict similarly.