Coroner records open verdict at inquest into death of Katy French
24-year-old model did not have large quantities of cocaine in her system
Janet and Jill French, mother and sister of Katie French, pictured arriving at Trim Court yesterday for the inquest into her death. Photograph: Collins Courts
The model Katy French only had a small amount of cocaine in her body when she died, an inquest has concluded.
Coroner John Lacy said he had no choice but to record an open verdict given the gaps and “unanswered questions” that were in the evidence given at the inquest into her death in Trim yesterday.
He said Ms French had been an “articulate, dynamic young person” and he warned that cocaine was a “very dangerous drug” which could be deadly even in small amounts.
The inquest heard the 24-year-old model died of a hypoxic ischaemic brain injury, or oxygen starvation to the brain, caused by a mixture of ephedrine (a stimulant and appetite suppressant) and cocaine.
It was found that she had 1.9 micrograms of the products of cocaine and ephedrine in her blood after analysis.
Ms French died in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan on December 6th, 2007, four days after she collapsed at the home of Kieron Ducie and his then partner Ann Corcoran at the former couple’s house in Lambertstown Manor, Kilmessan, Co Meath.
Both had initially said Ms French had a seizure in their home at about 8.15am and denied there was a gap of 90 minutes before taking her to hospital.
However, both said they could not remember the exact timeline. Mr Ducie said he had been very intoxicated having drank a litre and a half of vodka that night and had given the initial timeline under “duress” from gardaí.
In a statement delivered outside Trim Court, where the inquest took place, Ms French’s mother Janet French welcomed the verdict.
Flanked by the model’s father John French and sister Jill, she added: “The open verdict has confirmed what we thought all along. There are still a lot of unanswered questions particularly about what happened before Katy was brought to the hospital.
“The evidence given by Ducie and Corcoran was shown to be lacking in credibility and had many gaps. There was no real evidence of alcohol and seizures. The level of cocaine was being noted as very low.”
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy said only a small amount of cocaine can cause a seizure especially if somebody had returned to using the drug after a time away from it. She said some people can take the drug without any adverse effects, but the same amount taken another time can have “drastic consequences”.
She said tests showed Ms French had had a “sip” of alcohol and very little drugs or agents. This appeared to contradict the evidence given by Ms Corcoran that she had drank a lot of champagne, Red Bull and vodka on the night she collapsed.
Mr Ducie said that on December 2nd, 2007 at 6.30am, he returned home to find the model talking to his partner in the kitchen of their home.
He put an intoxicated Ms French to bed about 8am and heard a loud thud. He went down to investigate and found she was having seizures. He then drove her to the hospital.
Counsel for the French family John McGuiggan suggested to Ms Corcoran: “You may have been a friend to Katy in life, but you were not a friend to her in death”. He suggested that the couple were the only ones who knew what went on in that house that night. Both Mr Ducie and Ms Corcoran declined to comment after the inquest.