Domestic abuse survivor who escaped to Hastings found dead

A woman who moved to Hastings to escape domestic abuse was found dead in her room having taken a heroin-based substance, an inquest heard.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:17 am

Natalie Smithurst, 32, was found at a safe house for domestic abuse survivors, located in Hastings, on October 17, 2018.

An inquest into her death, held in Hastings on Tuesday (April 9), heard Miss Smithurst had been nearing a position to take on independent living at the time of her death.

She had been staying at the safe house where she was receiving support for her mental health problems and as a survivor of domestic abuse.

Natalie Smithurst's inquest was held in Muriel Matters House, Hastings

However, Miss Smithurst had a dependency with alcohol – often drinking ten cans a day – which caused her to do ‘silly things’, according to assistant coroner for East Sussex Christopher Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson told the court: “It is clear Natalie was in a position to take up independent living. She was receiving support not only for her mental health but also having suffered domestic abuse.

“She was trying to manage her mental health and manage the difficulties but had a blood alcohol concentration to a level which was very high in my opinion.

“She was seeking help and she was engaging with services. She was due to put in place a plan to help her live independently.”

A post-mortem investigation found Miss Smithurst had 0.18 micrograms of morphine in her body at the time of her death.

A toxicology report concluded it was more likely she had taken a heroin-based substance prior to her death and said she had died of multiple drug toxicity which had caused Miss Smithurst to develop kidney disease.

Mr Wilkinson said he was satisfied there was no evidence to suggest Miss Smithurst had intended to take her own life, calling it a ‘tragic miscalculation’ of the drugs she had taken.

The court also heard from Detective Sergeant Joanna Cooper who said there was ‘no evidence to suggest third party involvement’ in Miss Smithurst’s death other than the person who supplied the drugs, who DS Cooper said has not been traced.

Returning his conclusion, Mr Wilkinson added: “Whilst accidental, my conclusion is drug related death.”

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