‘Tragic and unintended’: Woman died after drinking too much alcohol in days after Christmas

Hertfordshire Coroner's Court
Hertfordshire Coroner's Court
  • Pamela Walker, 63, was found not breathing after drinking alcohol the previous night
  • Retired accounts clerk had been put to bed by her husband but died in her sleep
  • Corner records verdict of misadventure, saying ‘tragic’ consequences had been unintended

A woman died in her sleep just days after Christmas having consumed too much alcohol, an inquest has heard.

Senior coroner, Edward Thomas, told the Hertfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday that there had been no obvious cause for 63-year-old Pamela Walker’s death on December 27, but she was later found to have consumed more than five times the legal alcohol drink-drive limit before going to bed.

In these situations, there is nothing further anyone could have done – it is important to know that. Mrs Walker’s death was tragic.

Senior Coroner for Herts Edward Thomas

Mrs Walker, of Fields End, Hemel Hempstead, had been found asleep on the side of her bed by her husband at around 10pm on Boxing Day evening, and he put her to bed.

When he woke, he found his wife – a retired accounts clerk – was not breathing.

Resuscitation attempts were made by paramedics called to the scene, but after continued efforts to revive her, she was pronounced dead at Watford General Hospital.

The cause of her death was registered by medical staff as alcohol toxicity, and a post-mortem examination showed the level of alcohol in her blood was 438 milligrams. The legal drink-drive limit is 80 milligrams – though Mrs Walker had not got behind the wheel.

Pathologist Dr Rowena Smith noted no signs of any other disease that could have affected Mrs Walker, but it was revealed that up to 50% of people who consume such levels of alcohol die as a result.

Corner Mr Thomas said: “The effects of the alcohol caused her heart and lung to be less effective, and she died in her sleep. She wouldn’t have felt anything.”

Addressing Mrs Walker’s family, present in the court, he added: “It must be very sad for you. In these situations, there is nothing further anyone could have done – it is important to know that. Mrs Walker’s death was tragic.”

He recorded a verdict of misadventure, stating Mrs Walker took too much to drink, but that the consequences were unintended.