Mother of 17 died after drinking near fatal level of alcohol

A mother of 17 died after drinking a near fatal level of alcohol at a post-wedding day celebration, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mary Lawrence, aged 67, from Ardla Cottages in Skerries, north Co Dublin, was found dead in her bed by her daughter on Oct 30, last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mrs Lawrence’s death was brought about by a combination of a toxic level of alcohol in her system and existing heart and lung problems.

Her son, Stephen Lawrence, told the coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, that his mother had spent the evening before drinking at home with several family members. The group was celebrating a wedding that had taken place the previous day. Mrs Lawrence was drinking cider but also had a naggin of vodka and at one point he saw her knocking back a glass of neat vodka, he said.

His mother would become stubborn when drunk, he said, and would not go to bed. She spread herself on the floor and could not be moved. His brother Christopher, who lives across the road from his parent’s house, came in to help and was able to get Mrs Lawrence off the floor and the two of them put her to bed at around midnight.

“She was cursing us and calling us names for putting her to bed,” said Mr Lawrence.

“Chris and I left the room laughing because she was giving out.”

The next day, Mrs Lawrence’s daughter Winifred McDonagh was visiting her parent’s house and went to wake her mother up at about 10.30am. She pulled back the bedclothes, saw that her mother’s face was purple and knew that something was wrong.

She called for help and ran outside. One of Mrs Lawrence’s other sons, Anthony, attempted CPR, the court heard, but she had been dead a number of hours before she was discovered.

Dr Farrell told the family that it was likely that Mrs Lawrence had died in the hour or two after she had gone to bed. The autopsy found that she had a toxic level of alcohol in her system at the time of death at 277 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. The fatal level of alcohol for a woman is 300 milligrams.

However, Mrs Lawrence also suffered from high blood pressure, emphysema, and had an enlarged heart with moderate heart disease present. The pathologist gave the cause of death as the combined effect of acute alcohol intoxication and her existing heart and lung conditions.

Dr Farrell returned a narrative verdict outlining the facts.


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