NO ONE will ever know the exact circumstances surrounding the death of a Southampton pensioner, which sparked a police investigation.

That was the ruling of a Hampshire Coroner who admitted he believed he had not been told the "full story" regarding how Elsa Richardson came to die from an overdose.

His verdict came after hearing conflicting reports from the 86-year-old's daughter and carer over the reasons why an ambulance was not called until more than 12 hours after realising she had taken her daughter's pills.

Carer Alison Munday told the hearing that she believed the retired nurse would have survived if paramedics had been called earlier, as she claims she had pleaded with Ms Richardson's daughter to do.

Coroner Grahame Short gave an open verdict in the inquest of Ms Richardson, from Midanbury, who died two days after it is claimed she took an overdose using her daughter's medication.

Winchester Coroners' Court heard differing accounts from her daughter, Shirley Klintemark, and carer Ms Munday about the care she needed when she was found at her home in Fernedene Way.

A statement from Ms Klintemark, who lives in Denmark, said she flew to visit her mother on February 3 as she was worried because she had spoken about "ending it all" on several occasions.

She said on February 5 they had argued about the possibility of her moving into a care home, something the pensioner fiercely objected to.

In the statement, Ms Klintemark confirmed she was taking medication and said her mother took a quantity of those pills.

But when she realised her mother had taken the pills, at around 7.30pm that evening, she left her to sleep off the effects.

Ms Klintemark added Ms Richardson’s carer, Ms Munday, also noticed her mum was asleep during her visit the nex day and agreed she should be allowed to "sleep off" the effects of the drugs.

Her statement continued: “I was not concerned as I was told you would need the whole bottle to commit suicide.”

She added that when she called a doctor the next day, they advised her to call an ambulance, which she did at around 2pm and paramedics took an unresponsive Ms Richardson, who was also known as Ruth, to Southampton General Hospital.

In her statement Ms Klintemark continued: “Mum had been a nurse and understood the medication was similar to Valium and, when I was told about the pills being taken I was under my own medication, so I was fairly relaxed about it.”

However the inquest heard a conflicting statement from carer Ms Munday, who works for Selective Care.

Ms Munday said she was furious with the way that Ms Klintemark refused to call an ambulance – despite repeated pleas, after she saw Ms Richardson had been asleep for several hours.

Her statement described how she discovered Ms Richardson asleep with "white powder" around her mouth and dribbling, noticed a bottle of pills on the bedside table and realised it was not one prescribed to her.

Ms Munday tried to wake her up before picking up the bottle and ran downstairs to speak to Ms Klintenmark and asked her to phone an ambulance.

She said: "Shirley kept saying she is fine and she is just sleeping it off. She did not show any emotion or urgency she seemed unfazed that she could not wake Ruth up."

Ms Munday said she left the house but returned later that day and pleaded with Ms Klintemark to call an ambulance, which she eventually did, the inquest heard.

Ms Munday added: “The whole incident has left me so angry at Shirley for not letting me assist her mother.

"This could have been prevented had it not been for Shirley preventing me calling an ambulance for Ruth.”

The hearing heard how Ms Richardson, who had been suffering from dementia, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and had suffered heart attacks, was taken to hospital on February 6 but died two days later of bronchopneumonia.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue revealed she had excessive amounts of medication in her blood as well as "therapeutic level" of another - both drugs had not prescribed to her.

But he also stated that the drugs combined could affect how the brain "maintains the body" and that Ms Richardson had ingested a substantial amount.

Giving evidence Detective Constable Robert Munroe said Ms Richardson's death had sparked a police investigation but was later dropped.

DC Munroe said: "Adult services contacted Hampshire Constabulary, as there were concerns for a vulnerable adult and the way she had come to die.

"Our role was to investigate the circumstances of the death to see if there was any crime committed."

He added: "The investigation into the death was inconclusive, we did not feel there were further lines of enquiry about how she had come to consume the drugs and who had given it to her."

Coroner Grahame Short delivered an open conclusion with the cause of death being bronchopneumonia.

He said: “The evidence shows at some time probably during that evening on February 5, Ruth ingested [the two drugs], one of these drugs is not available in the UK and the affect of both of these drugs is they to depress the central nervous system.

"I am not confident I have been told the full story of what happened that night based on the statement by Ms Klintemark.

"I think it is most likely she (Ruth) took the drugs herself, but I cannot rule out she was assisted in doing so and I accept she could have died as a result of natural causes."