A woman whose death sparked a murder inquiry died after taking a ‘cocktail of drugs’, an inquest heard.
Nicola Ross was found inside a flat in Hylton Court, Oxclose, Washington on Monday, August 14, last year.
Dr Egan identified toxic levels of morphine but also that a cocktail of drugs that had been taken.Karin Welch
As part of inquiries, Northumbria Police arrested two men, both aged 40, on suspicion of murder as part of the investigation launched into her death.
A third was also arrested in connection with the inquiry. The force has confirmed no action was taken against those arrested.
At an inquest, held at the Coroner’s Court at Sunderland Civic Centre, a brief hearing was told that Mrs Ross was found unresponsive at the flate.
Paramedics were called, but she was declared dead just before 12.30pm.
Senior Assistant Coroner Karin Welch explained Mrs Ross, who used her maiden name of Shaw on occasion, had become estranged from her husband and had begun a new relationship with another man, who had caused “some difficulty with her extended family.”
She added: “It also had some impact upon her drug misuse.”
Ms Welch detailed how tests carried out as part of a post mortem examination found the presence of morphine, Gabapentin, a drug used to treat epilepsy, nerve pain and migraines, Alprazolam, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, codeine, Tramadol, Diazepam and Amitriptyline.
Samples also discovered cocaine in her system.
Dr Mark Egan, the pathologist who carried out the checks, said her death had been caused by the affects of drugs.
Ms Welch told the hearing: “Dr Egan identified toxic levels of morphine but also that a cocktail of drugs that had been taken.
“All on the balance of probability it leads me to say Mrs Ross’s death was drug related and that is the conclusion I have reached.”
As police inquiries got under way, officers said they were treating her death as “unexplained.”
They said Mrs Ross, who lives in Newriggs, Fatfield, had been found with injuries, but that it was not known if they were the cause of her death.
The emergency services had been called to the mid-storey flat after Mrs Ross was found unconscious.