Mum’s death could have been accidental

Eastbourne Magistrates Court
Eastbourne Magistrates Court

A Hailsham mum and retired carer who battled depression and anxiety for more than 15 years died of a drugs overdose, an inquest has heard .

Maxine Mepham’s body was found in her flat, at Compton Terrace, on December 17 2014 by a friend of her daughter, who had become worried after not hearing from her mum for more than a week.

While a post mortem examination couldn’t determine cause of death due to the extent of decomposition, there were high levels of anti-psychotic drug Quetiapine in her blood, as well as an alcohol level slightly above normal.

In her flat there were four empty litre bottles of vodka and empty blister packets of Quetiapine, which had been prescribed to the 57-year-old.

Her daughter Imogen Mepham, who had been studying in Plymouth at the time, attended the inquest at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday April 23. She told the court how her mum had been suffering from depression and alcohol abuse for a number of years and in the time leading up to her death, had been increasingly worried about her son Liam, who was in hospital with pneumonia.

Despite Imogen reassuring her mum that Liam was recovering, she continued to phone, resulting in the two having a small argument. Imogen told the court how she didn’t feel this would have made her mum seriously depressed, especially as they had been discussing plans to see each other at Christmas. There were various other reasons why she wasn’t convinced her mum’s death had been intentional, including the lack of a suicide note and the fact there had been food cooking in the oven.

Caroline Thomas, a registered mental nurse, visited Ms Mepham’s flat shortly before her death and agreed she did not see her as a suicide risk. She also told the court how Ms Mepham would often take pills with alcohol as a way to help her sleep. Coroner Alan Craze gave cause of death as a Quetiapine overdose but recorded an open verdict as he could not be sure whether the death was accidental or intentional.

Imogen said: “Mum was a very loving woman who always gave her time to help others.”