A WOMAN whose death sparked a murder investigation is thought to have suffered a fit brought on by alcohol withdrawal.
Cherie Hayward was found lifeless at her Southampton home by her partner Brian Thompson.
A Southampton inquest heard that he was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder but after a post-mortem examination revealed how she died police concluded that he was not involved.
They subsequently found bruising on her nose and police were called.
Mr Thompson told officers that they had been drinking the night before and got up at 10am leaving Ms Hayward asleep but he checked on her regularly throughout the day, the inquest heard. The 61-year-old said it was not unusual for her to spend all day in bed. At 6pm he said she was asleep and snoring but when he checked on her at 6.50pm she was face down on the floor.
Finding she was not breathing and had no pulse, he called for an ambulance to their flat in Nichols Road, St Mary’s and tried to resuscitate her.
At the time of his arrest Mr Thompson protested his innocence in the Daily Echo and said that he had known Ms Hayward for eight years but they had only recently begun a serious relationship.
The inquest heard that she had a history of drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues and that her liver had been enlarged.
However, toxicology tests showed that she had an insignificant level of alcohol and not a dangerous level of medication in her system and she was not intoxicated at the time of her death.
Home Office pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said it was most likely that she had an alcohol withdrawal fit and died when her airways filled with fluid from her stomach.
She had no injuries other than the grazed and bruised nose and some tiny grazes to her fingers, the inquest heard.
He said there was nothing to suggest she had been attacked or restrained and that these injuries were superficial and were in keeping with a fall to the floor, were not deliberately inflicted and had not caused or contributed to the death.
Coroner for Southampton Keith Wiseman recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.