-Coroner finds 25-year-old’s death was ‘drug-related’
Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose after losing her battle against addiction, an inquest heard. The journalist, model, and television presenter, who was 25, had been taking the substitute drug methadone in the two-and-a-half years before she died.
But by February of this year, the mother-of-two had started using again, her husband Tom Cohen told an inquest in Kent.
Mr Cohen, a musician, found her slumped on a bed in a spare room at their family home in Wrotham, Kent, on April 7.
Police later found 6.9 grammes of “importation quality” heroin stashed in a bag inside a cupboard over a bedroom door with a purity of 61%, worth between £350 and £550 (€443 and €695). They also discovered a syringe containing residue of heroin in a sweet box next to the bed, and other paraphernalia including burnt spoons.
Returning his verdict, North West Kent coroner Roger Hatch said Ms Geldof’s death had been “drugs-related” and heroin had played a part. He told the hearing that, although she had struggled to come off methadone, by November 2013 Ms Geldof was found to be free of heroin and reducing her methadone.
Mr Hatch said: “It’s said that the death of Peaches Geldof-Cohen is history repeating itself but this is not entirely so. By November last year she had ceased to take heroin as a result of the considerable treatment and counselling that she had received.
“This was a significant achievement for her but, for reasons we will never know, prior to her death she returned to taking heroin, with the fatal consequences that we have heard here today. I therefore find that the death of Peaches Geldof was drug-related and I express my sympathy to her family.”
Mr Cohen told the inquest that he had gone to stay with his parents in south-east London with the couple’s two sons, Astala, two, and Phaedra, one, in the days leading up to his wife’s death. She had seemed fine when he spoke to her on several occasions over the weekend, he said.
His father, Keith, had seen Ms Geldof when he dropped the younger child home to her and did not notice anything amiss.
The 24-year-old said he had last spoken to his wife at 5.40pm on Sunday April 6 but, after failing to get hold of her the next day, he and his mother returned to the property with Astala and found Ms Geldof’s body.
Her last-known movements included posting a picture of herself with her mother Paula Yates on Instagram. Yates was also found dead from a heroin overdose at her London home in September 2000.
Her daughter had been having weekly drugs tests which she told her husband were negative, but in February he found a message on her phone suggesting she had returned to heroin use. Later he witnessed how she retrieved drugs from the loft and flushed them down the toilet.
Pathologist Peter Jerreat said evidence of injections had been found on Ms Geldof’s body. There were puncture marks on her elbow and left hand and she had died of an “opiate intoxication” due to a “fatal level of heroin in the body”, the pathologist found.
Detective chief inspector Paul Fotheringham said the heroin found at the property “far exceeded” the 26% purity usually found at street level.
Timeline of events leading up to Peaches Geldof’s death:
-Thursday, April 3: Thomas Cohen takes the couple’s two children, Astala, two, and Phaedra, one, to stay for the weekend at his parent’s house in London.
-Friday, April 4: Ms Geldof goes out for a meal in London with two close friends. She and one of the friends then go to the cinema before returning to the friend’s house in Hampstead where Ms Geldof stays overnight.
-Saturday, April 5: Ms Geldof goes shopping before returning to Kent by train. She takes a taxi to her home address. During the afternoon and early evening she watches television and maintains phone contact with friends and family..
-Sunday, April 6: At home alone, she continues to maintain phone contact and attempts to arrange a day out with family members which is cancelled due to poor weather.
-5pm: Mr Cohen’s father Keith Cohen takes Phaedra back to Wrotham and spends about half an hour with Ms Geldof before leaving the child with her. Nothing about her mood concerns him.
-6.17pm: Ms Geldof posts a picture of herself as a child with her mother Paula Yates on Instagram with the comment “me and my mum”. There are also messages indicating that she has been bathing Phaedra.
-6.50pm: Ms Geldof sends a message about the children to her mother-in-law Susan.
-7.01pm: Ms Geldof sends a message to a friend asking them to call her.
-7.14pm: Ms Geldof uses her laptop to look for The Dog Whisperer TV show on YouTube.
-7.45pm: Ms Geldof has a 12 minute, 10 second phone conversation with the friend she had sent a message to at 7.01pm. This is the last known contact with her.
-9.48pm: Mr Cohen calls his wife but receives no response.
-Monday, April 7: Mr Cohen makes repeated efforts to contact his wife but has no success.
A neighbour and a local dog warden visit Ms Geldof’s home but receive no answer at the door.
-1.30pm: Mr Cohen, his mother, and Astala return to the family home and the musician finds his wife in a spare room on the edge of a bed, slumped forward. It is obvious to him she is dead, the inquest is told.
-1.35pm: Mr Cohen calls his mother who rings the emergency services and relays information from her son that he believes his wife has taken a heroin overdose. Mr Cohen finds his son Phaedra.
-1.55pm: The police and paramedics arrive and attend to Ms Geldof, confirming “life extinct”.
Ms Geldof’s body is removed later that evening to Darent Valley Hospital where she is identified by her father Bob Geldof.
-April 21: Ms Geldof’s funeral takes place at St Mary Magdalene and St Lawrence Church in Davington.
-May 1: An inquest hearing into the death, is opened and adjourned.
-July 23: A full inquest hearing concludes the death was drug-related.
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