Inquest hears woman died after taking prescribed drugs

Barbara Chew, a recovering drug addict, died at her home in Lucan last year


A 41-year-old recovering drug addict died due to the levels of prescribed drugs in her system.

Barbara Chew from Buirg An Ri Walk, Lucan, Co Dublin died unexpectedly on February 16th, 2017.

She had been living with her partner who left for work early that morning and came back to find her unresponsive.

“We were living together three and a half months. I left to deliver leaflets that day and was back home at 3.40pm. I found her in the bedroom lying on the bed on her back,” Thomas Kine had said.

Mr Kine was not in court. Gardaí were unable to contact him as they believe he is now homeless.

Emergency services were called to the scene and arrived shortly before 4pm. Paramedics worked to save the woman’s life but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Garda JP Cushen of Ronanstown Garda station investigated the incident and found nothing suspicious. A medical report read out at Dublin Coroner’s Court revealed the woman had last visited her doctor on January 13th.

A postmortem examination conducted by Dr Barbara Loftus found three different prescribed medications in the woman’s system. These included valium, methadone and dalmane, a benzodiazepine similar to valium.

The cause of death was respiratory failure due to multiple drug toxicity.

“There’s no other explanation other than a high level of dalmane and a high level of methadone.

“Another person could take the same amount and their level would be higher. It depends on the person and how long since they took it,” Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

The woman had a high but not toxic level of methadone in her system, the inquest heard.

“You could not go as far as to say it was a lethal level because there are so many variables in a person who takes methadone every day. Each of the things that were in her system were at a relatively high level,” the coroner said.

“On that occasion the levels of medication that built up in her system were too much for her,” the coroner said, returning a verdict of misadventure.