Family of tragic Tetra Pak heiress to boycott inquest

The mother of drug-addict Eva Rausing, whose body was found under bin bags in July, will be flying to Barbados instead, she tells Sanchez Manning

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The Independent Online

The family of one of Britain's richest women, who lay dead in her central London home for up to eight weeks, have no plans to attend the inquest into her death, her mother said yesterday.

Eva Rausing, married to the Tetra Pak heir Hans Kristian Rausing and the daughter of a wealthy former executive of Pepsi, Tom Kemeny, died earlier this year after a long battle with drug addiction.

Her mother, Nancy Kemeny, who lives in the United States, said neither she nor the rest of her family were planning to fly to Britain for a coroner's hearing about her daughter's death because they believed that inquiries were effectively concluded.

She said the British authorities had told her the cause of her 48-year-old daughter's death was drugs.

Speaking ahead of the inquest on Friday, Mrs Kemeny said: "We'd prefer not to come over. What evidence could I give? I really don't understand what it's all about, this inquest. I thought it was more or less over with – I didn't know there was going to be another one.

"My son-in-law was sentenced to two years in rehab and that's where he is and I don't understand now why he's being brought back. If that's what the law is then it's fine, but I just thought it was finished."

The inquest comes five months after police discovered Mrs Rausing's body in an upstairs bedroom of her £50m home in Cadogan Place, Chelsea, west London. Her decomposing corpse was found in July hidden under a pile of clothing and bin bags which had been taped together. It is believed that she may have lain there for up to eight weeks and was only uncovered after Hans Rausing was stopped by police while driving, and arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs.

Rausing – joint heir to the estimated £5.4bn Tetra Pak carton fortune – later admitted to "preventing the lawful and decent burial" of his wife's body. The 49-year-old claimed during his appearance at Westminster magistrates' court that he had kept his wife's body in the house because he had been unable to face up to the reality of her death. In a courtroom statement Rausing's doctor said he had told him: "I know it sounds selfish but I just didn't want her to leave."

Rausing was sentenced to 10 months in jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation programme.

It was a tragic end to what had already been a sad tale of years of hard-drug use during which the ultra-rich couple had descended into what was reported to be a "twilight world of addiction". The once popular socialites, who had counted the Prince of Wales among their friends and donated millions to charity, had become virtual recluses over the past five years.

According to friends, they lived in squalor on the second floor of their home, and rejected all offers of help as they slipped further into the grip of heroin and crack cocaine. Their malaise spilled into public view this summer when they were both photographed looking gaunt and frail.

Just weeks later, Mrs Rausing was confirmed dead. An initial inquest into her death was opened and adjourned last July.

During the short hearing, Scotland Yard detectives told Westminster coroner's court that Mr Rausing was in hospital being treated for alcohol withdrawal and was too unwell to answer questions.

It was further revealed that post-mortem tests had been inconclusive and Mrs Rausing's death was being treated as unexplained. The inquest is now set to reopen on 14 December and it is understood that Rausing will be represented by Neil Saunders QC.

While the hearing is taking place, Mrs Kemeny said she plans to fly from her beachfront home in South Carolina to Barbados, where the family has a second home.

She said she was unhappy with plans to hold a memorial service for Eva at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in March next year. She objects to the size of the event at the retirement home for British soldiers, which is being organised by her son-in-law.

"There will be a huge memorial service on 6 March," she said. "It will be at the Royal Hospital because she helped the Royal Hospital a lot. I've been told it will be very big, which I'm against because I wanted it to be family and a few close friends."

Despite her misgivings about the service, Mrs Kemeny said her family say they will attend.