Heir's wife 'died of drug abuse'
Eva Rausing, the wife of multi-millionaire Hans Kristian Rausing, died as a result of dependent abuse of drugs, a coroner ruled today.
Toxicology reports on Ms Rausing showed cocaine, opiates and amphetamines in her blood.
She had been fitted with a pacemaker following heart surgery in August 2006, which revealed she had suffered a “non-survivable” heart rhythm on the morning of May 7th.
Mr Rausing, heir to a £5.4 billion fortune from his Swedish father’s Tetra Pak business, had been arrested in Wandsworth on July 9th when people saw him driving erratically and alerted the police.
When officers stopped his car, they found a pile of post addressed to Ms Rausing and drug paraphernalia.
When officers asked where his wife was, he said she had been in the US for the previous two weeks. The police decided to search his home in Chelsea.
They discovered Ms Rausing’s body in the bedroom of a second floor annexe in the couple’s home.
Officers searching the house detected the smell of decomposition and discovered the body after removing furniture blocking the entrance to the room and tape sealing the door. Housekeepers working for the couple had been told never to enter that area of the property and had last seen Ms Rausing in late April, the inquest heard.
In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Rausing said he had been left devastated by the death of his “beloved wife”.
He explained how he discovered Ms Rausing after hearing her slide off the bed while he was in the bathroom.
“She landed sideways and her head was resting on a pillow,” Mr Rausing said. “I tried to pull her up. I shouted ‘Eva, Eva, Eva’”.
Mr Rausing said he could see his wife’s eyes dim before covering her lifeless body with duvets and bedding. “I could not cope with her dying or confront the reality of her death,” he added.
Mr Rausing said in hindsight he had not acted “rationally” by hiding his wife’s body.
Det Insp Sharon Marman, who led the investigation into Ms Rausing’s death, told the inquest her body was found with silver foil in her hand.
It had been rolled up as a pipe with wire wool inside, indicating it had been used for smoking cocaine, she said.
In his written statement, Mr Rausing denied giving his wife drugs and said the couple would buy cocaine separately.
Det Insp Marman said an investigation to find out who supplied cocaine to Ms Rausing remained “unresolved”.
The inquest heard the couple had been living exclusively on the second floor of their home in the weeks before Ms Rausing’s death.
The bedroom where her body was found was a “scene of disarray”, with syringes and drug paraphernalia on the floor and tarpaulin covering the bed, Det Insp Marman said.
PC Darren Reynolds, who searched the Rausings’ property on July 9th, said white powder was found on the bed, which was thought to have been used to cover the smell of the decomposing body.
One of the couple’s housekeepers told police that in the weeks before Ms Rausing was found, her husband had been sleeping on a kitchen sofa.
She had last been seen by their staff on April 29th after returning from a US rehabilitation clinic, the inquest head.
The couple had fought a public battle against addiction to drugs after meeting in a drug rehabilitation centre in 1989 and marrying in 1992.
She had been clean for years but spiralled back into problems with substance abuse after drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve in 1999.
Mr Rausing said he and his wife were living a “solitary” lifestyle in recent years as their problems with drugs worsened.
The inquest heard Ms Rausing had a history of heart problems and failed to attend follow-up appointments following her surgery.
A postmortem revealed her pacemaker was working correctly but was in an energy-saving mode, as the battery was running out.
Delivering her verdict, Dr Radcliffe said Ms Rausing’s life was on a “downward trajectory” as she failed to take care of her physical and mental health.
“I offer my condolences to the family for the loss of a 48-year-old mother, wife, sister and daughter,” she said.