Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Mother-of-three found dead in bed by daughter after taking prescription medicine

A mother-of-three who took a fatal combination of prescription medicine was found dead in bed by her 12-year-old daughter.

Sharon Elizabeth Smyth was discovered by her youngest child after panic-stricken relatives had been unable to get in touch with the 43-year-old, an inquest heard.

The girl told her grandmother on the telephone that her mother was sleeping and she couldn’t wake her up.

Ms Smyth, from Co Armagh, suffered long-term mental health problems, mainly anxiety and depression. A concoction of medication she was taking led to her death at her home in Rectory Close, Loughgall, in September of last year, an inquest at Armagh Courthouse was told on Monday.

Her breathing was believed to have slowed to the extent that pneumonia set in.

Coroner Jim Kitson said that the evidence indicated the death of Ms Smyth was accidental and that she had not killed herself.

Ms Smyth’s mother, May Halligan, told Mr Kitson that she had last spoken to her daughter on the evening prior to her death.

The single mother visited Ms Halligan on Friday, September 21, leaving at about 11pm. Two of her children decided to stay with their grandmother while the youngest, a 12-year-old girl, stayed at home.

Ms Halligan said she saw her daughter twice a day most days and said, despite being aware of her daughter’s long battle with depression, she had shown no signs of wanting to end her life.

Ms Halligan told the court how she tried to call her daughter on the morning of September 22, but was unable to get through.

Ms Halligan then contacted her granddaughter who told her that she couldn’t wake her mum.

She headed straight to Ms Smyth’s house and found her in bed. She called the emergency services and conducted CPR.

PSNI Constable Paul McGivern said there was no evidence a crime had been committed at the home and no signs of overdose.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram said the levels of the drugs taken by Smyth, and the combination of them, had fatally affected her breathing.

Mr Kitson said the evidence indicated Ms Smyth’s death was accidental, and that she had not taken her own life.

Following the inquest, Ms Halligan — who has since taken over responsibility for her daughter’s children — said: “She meant the world to me as a daughter.

“She was a devoted mother.”

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