The death of a 21-year-old mother, planning to have another child with her long-term partner, can never be fully explained, a coroner has ruled.

Lauren Johnson, of Phipps Bridge Road, Mitcham, was found to have taken a cocktail of drugs before her death – but friends and family of the former Bishopsford Community School pupil insisted she would never have taken her own life.

On Tuesday, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told Ms Johnson’s partner of five years, Ben Salter, woke at about 11.30am on February 26, after a booze-filled night, to find she was not breathing.

Her step-father, Craig Baughurst, who had arrived at their Richmond Court flat minutes earlier to take Ms Johnson and two-year-old son Freddie to Richmond Park, immediately called an ambulance after discovering a bottle of tablets in her hand.

However, paramedics were unable to revive her.

Coroner’s officer Deborah Plant told the court on Tuesday, May 17, Ms Johnson was a beautiful young lady who was very family oriented and loving and caring to everyone”.

Since 2007 she had been experiencing panic attacks, fits and some problems with sleep paralysis. While pregnant with Freddie in 2008, she began suffering episodes of depression, for which she was prescribed Venlafaxine.

In November 2010 Ms Johnson gave birth to a stillborn baby, named Chloe, and was referred to a counsellor by her GP.

Despite the loss, Ms Johnson’s family said she was never suicidal, adding that she hated taking tablets and could only do so if they were crushed first.

The court heard Ms Johnson and Mr Salter had been drinking with friends on February 25, and did not go to bed until after 7am the following morning.

Robert Chapman, a specialist Home Office pathologist, found traces of cocaine, a “very high level” of antihistamine Cyclizine, Venlafaxine and alcohol during the post mortem examination.

He gave the cause of death as mixed drug and alcohol toxicity.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said: “All the evidence I have seen shows she intended to live, not to die.

“Why she took all these medications we will never know – whether it was a cry for help or whether it was the state of intoxication.

“I am not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that this was just a simple accident. This was someone who did not like taking tablets.

“The evidence does not fully disclose all the matters in this case and I am forced to record an open verdict.”


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