THE life of a beloved sister, friend and partner was cut short after a long battle with drugs and mental health problems, a coroner has ruled.

Family and friends gathered at Barrow Town Hall on Wednesday for the inquest of Laura Elizabeth Stainton, who died last year aged just 32.

Assistant coroner for Cumbria Paul O'Donnell was told Miss Stainton died at a time when she was trying to turn her life around.

She endured a chaotic childhood, and had lost both her mother and father by the age of 21. This led to the emergency of a drug habit, in particular, heroin.

Since both kicking the drug in 2004, Mike Armstrong – her partner of 10 years – and Miss Stainton supported one another to stay clean.

In the past Mr Armstrong and Miss Stainton had used methadone to control their addiction, but recently she had been turning to alcohol as a way of coping with her mental and emotional problems.

He said: "I think it was due to her mum and dad, she never got over the death of her mum."

In the past Miss Stainton had been cared for in the Dane Garth mental health unit at Furness General Hospital, working on her recovery.

She was also supported by friends, and neighbours, who she spoke to about her problems with substance abuse.

Hearing: The inquest heard that Miss Stainton had told her neighbour that she had tried the drug called spice Her neighbour Elaine Baxter said: "She had taken spice because she just wanted to try it. To me Laura was not in the right frame of mind, I didn't think she should have been let out of Dane Garth."

On July 2 last year Mr Armstrong called an ambulance for Miss Stainton after becoming concerned for her welfare. She was taken to FGH, but after examination, nothing wrong was found and she was discharged that evening. After briefly returning to Mr Armstrong's flat, she went home to her flat in Broad Close, Ormsgill.

The next day, Mr Armstrong went to check on his girlfriend, but after getting no response banging on the windows and doors, he noticed the motionless legs of Miss Stainton through a gap in the blinds. Paramedics were called, but she was pronounced dead shortly after 11am.

Written evidence provided by Miss Stainton's doctor, Dr Geoff Jolliffe, said in spite of her problems, which included anxiety, depression and drug use, he said she had "so many years of successfully combating her problems."

Miss Stainton's brother Darren gave evidence to the hearing, saying he knew his sister was winning the fight against her problems.

He said: "She wanted to get her life back together, start a family up, she was adamant to right the wrongs of the past. She wanted to start again."

Miss Stainton, however, never got that chance. During the post mortem the pathologist found she had ingested a lethal quantity of methadone, which caused her death.

Mr O'Donnell said: "What we have in this case is a tragically sad end to a life that had plenty of potential, but, she was clearly an unwell young lady. I conclude Laura very sadly died of a drug related death."

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