Addict 'may not have injected'

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The Independent Online

Rachel Whitear may not have injected herself with the heroin that killed her in her Exmouth bedsit, an inquest jury concluded yesterday.

The panel said it could not rule out the possibility that someone had been present when the 21-year-old died in the bedsit seven years ago.

It concluded that she died of an overdose of heroin, but it was not certain whether she had administered it herself.

Exeter coroner Ian Arrow said: "This death clearly attracted attention because the original medical cause of death was unascertained. We now have a medical cause of death."

Rachel, originally from Ledbury, who was a talented pianist and former student of Bath Spa University, was found dead on the floor of her bedsit with a capped syringe in her hand.

Mr Arrow said many organisations had learned from the death of Miss Whitear and had modified their procedures. He said he hoped the case would help to promote better practices in future.

He said drugs-related deaths were all too common and particularly moving seeing that they often involved young people who had a life ahead of them.

Answering 10 questions put to them by the coroner, the jury decided Miss Whitear had died from heroin intoxication, and was in the habit of injecting the drug.

She had the necessary equipment to inject heroin, but the jurors did not know whether she was in possession of the drug or whether she had injected herself with it.

The coroner's final question asked the jury if Miss Whitear had been alone when she died. The jury's answer was "we do not know".