Husband finds wife, 49, in Lake District stream after drinking, inquest hears

The Westmorland Gazette: Coroner Ian Smith (pictured) recorded a verdict of accidental death Coroner Ian Smith (pictured) recorded a verdict of accidental death

A MUM who used alcohol as ‘self-medication’ was found unconscious in a Lake District stream by her husband and sister-in-law, an inquest heard.

Ailsa Gordon was discovered suffering from hypothermia in Glencoyne Beck, near Seldom Seen cottages, Glenridding, on April 1.

An inquest into the death of the 49-year-old, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, heard she was flown to Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, but died the following morning.

On admission, her core body temperature was 21 degrees. Effects of hypothermia begin at 35 degrees, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem revealed when Mrs Gordon died she had 128mgs of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

The legal drink-drive limit is 80mgs. But Dr Nicholas Mapstone, who conducted the autopsy, said it was likely she could have had more than four times that amount of alcohol in her system when she was found 11 hours earlier.

The inquest, held at South Lakeland Magistrates’ Court, Kendal, on Tuesday, also heard from Mrs Gordon’s husband David.

He said his wife had displayed signs of borderline personality disorder and seasonal bipolar stretching back to their first year of marriage.

She had also admitted herself to psychiatric hospitals in the past, he said.

“I’ve seen her go from reasonable to having to phone the police within 45 minutes,” he said.

“She self-medicated with booze. For her, it was getting away from her trauma, a complex post traumatic stress disorder brought on by childhood abuse.”

The inquest was told that the couple were living at the holiday home while he had a month off work and she was working two days a week in Blackburn.

“At about noon I was doing the domestic chores,” he said. “She said she was going for a walk. In the past, if she was going for a binge, she would be angry but this time she was very calm.”

It was not until Mr Gordon’s sister Eleanor arrived that he began to worry for his wife’s welfare. He set off with his sister and found Mrs Gordon at around 6pm lying on her back with her nose and eyes just above the water – 700 yards from the cottage where they were staying.

He said: “I had to pull her out of the water and waited for 15 minutes as the rapid response team arrived. Where she was lying shelved into deeper water. It’s possible she had tried to shuffle out drunkenly.”

Two red vodka cap bottle tops and an empty one litre plastic bottle were found nearby, the inquest was told.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner for South and East Cumbria Ian Smith said: “It seems she stumbled or fell into the stream.

“She had been in the water for some time, got colder and colder and the alcohol exacerbated that.”

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