Doncaster woman’s drug overdose death mystery

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THE mystery of why a young Doncaster woman died from a massive drugs overdose remains unsolved - despite a police investigation which led to her husband being arrested.

A Doncaster inquest recorded an open verdict on 28-year-old Victoria Anne Todd, who died almost two years ago after three empty bottles of methadone were found next to the mattress on which she was sleeping in the lounge of a squalid Bentley flat she shared with her husband, David.

Her family suggested she had been forced to take the drug, a substitute for heroin.

But Deputy Coroner Fred Curtis was told that was very unlikely.

Mr Todd, a refuse collector, was initially arrested after signs of violence were found on Victoria’s body when she died in Doncaster Royal Infirmary. But he has never been charged with any offences in relation to his wife’s death.

The inquest heard the couple had a difficult relationship, and that Victoria’s was a ‘very unhappy’ situation.

In the month before her death in July 2011 she was unhappy because her two children were taken into care. They were placed with her mother.

Victoria was also arrested for an alleged assault on her mother, and was on bail at the time of her death.

Despite this she left the flat in Magnet Court, Askern Road, she shared with Mr Todd and moved temporarily to her mother’s house, in breach of her bail and social services access conditions.

Mr Curtis said he was satisfied Victoria was binge drinking during that time, and then returned to live with Mr Todd, who also admitted excessive drinking and taking drugs.

“It is clear to me the conditions at Magnet Court were far from satisfactory for the children, and not very satisfactory from the point of view of adults, with little or no furniture,” said Mr Curtis.
“One can see it was not an attractive place to live. In general terms, the style and quality of life for Victoria and David was unsatisfactory and poor.”

Mr Todd and Victoria were said to have been assaulted three days before her death, by persons who have never been traced.

Mr Curtis said there was no evidence Victoria was involved in taking drugs, and the assault was not connected to her death, but ‘was another unhappy event on top of all else’.

Mr Todd, who maintained they had a ‘happy relationship’, said they had both been drinking the evening before she died and fell asleep on the mattress in the lounge. He woke and heard her making strange breathing noises so called for an ambulance.

Police and paramedics found three empty bottles of methadone next to the mattress.
Two post-mortem examinations - one carried out by a Home Office pathologist - showed death was due to methadone toxicity.

Mr Todd was arrested because of suspicious marks on his wife’s body, but there were no significant injuries, and the pathologist said it was ‘very difficult’ to force someone to take methadone liquid.

Mr Curtis said: “There is no precise evidence as to how the methadone was consumed, but it is more likely than not that the consumption was voluntary. I find it very difficult to find how a liquid can be forced down a person, in this case three bottles.

“There are no notes preceding death and no expression of intent to do any harm to herself. There is a possibility she was just seeking an experience for herself. While I am satisfied she has taken the methadone herself, there is no way I can be sure she intended to kill herself.

“It would be quite improper to answer unanswered questions when there is no evidence available. It is extremely sad she should die in these very unhappy circumstances.”

Victoria’s mother declined to comment after the hearing.