Drugs binge led to accidental death of porn heiress

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The Independent Online
Debbie Raymond, heir to her father Paul's pounds 135m soft-porn and property empire, died after snorting cocaine and heroin, and drinking a bottle of vodka, an inquest was told yesterday.

Ms Raymond, 36, took 'all sorts of drugs' for 'recreational use' and had been prescribed anti-depressants, St Pancras Coroner's Court was told. She died accidentally from opiate poisoning, the coroner decided.

Ainsley Tree, 32, Ms Raymond's lover, described how last November she visited his flat in Belsize Park, north London, and took heroin 'for the first time'.

He said: 'She came back from work and we had a drink and she put out cocaine on the table.' Mr Tree told the inquest that she snorted the cocaine, followed by some heroin, and went on to drink a bottle of vodka, which he said was 'normal for an evening'.

Although she became intoxicated, he was not worried because 'she could hold her liquor'. When he could not wake her the following morning, he tried 'to wake her by putting her under the shower . . . she still wouldn't wake up and I took her back to the bed and tried to give her mouth-to- mouth (resuscitation) and water came out of her mouth and I thought she was still alive.' She was pronounced dead after being admitted to hospital.

Mr Tree, a graphic designer, told the inquest that although Ms Raymond, of Chobham, Surrey, was 'an up and down sort of person' who suffered mood swings, the evening had been 'a happy time' and there had been no suggestion she would take her life.

Although she had suffered two bouts of depression since June 1990, and was worried about a custody battle with her estranged second husband, John James, she was 'in exceedingly good spirits' before her death. She could be reckless and knew little about drugs, the inquest was told.

Dr Freddy Patel, a Home Office pathologist, said blood tests revealed 'extremely high' levels of morphine - the result of opiate drugs like heroin - as well as traces of cocaine, nicotine and the anti-depressant drugs Temazepam and Dothiepin. There was no evidence of alcohol.

The coroner, Dr Ian Shedden, said there was 'nothing whatsoever to suggest that she committed suicide'. Mr Raymond, 67, was in court yesterday but made no statement. Maria Raymond, 36, Ms Raymond's sister-in-law, said: 'It's been a very trying time for the family. Her parents are distressed.'

(Photograph omitted)

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