A mum who had “everything to live for” was found dead outside a pub after catching hypothermia, an inquest heard.
Victoria Cartwright, 36, had only been discharged from hospital days earlier and was staying in a nearby hotel used as a homeless shelter. A doctor warned she would need 24-hour care and that the hotel was unsuitable for her mental and physical health.
She was discovered by a passer-by lying face down on the ground outside the Ball and Boot pub, Wigan, on Boxing Day last year, reports the Manchester Evening News.
She had drunk ‘excessive’ amounts of alcohol and taken sedative medication before catching hypothermia, an inquest heard. A support worker who was based at the hotel attempted revive her with a defibrillator but she could not be saved.
Bolton Coroner’s Court heard yesterday Victoria had suffered difficulties with battling alcoholism for a number of years following the breakdown of her marriage and difficulties surrounding the custody of her young son.
The qualified hairdresser, of Bickershaw Lane, Wigan, had previously been referred to the care of alcohol recovery service We are With You in 2015, 2017 and 2018, before also completing a rehabilitation programme in 2020.
She had been admitted to hospital on November 10, last year, following welfare concerns, where Dr Prasad, of the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, said she needed 24-hour care due to alcohol-induced brain damage. He added she was often “confused” and was “struggling to take care of her personal care needs”.
Despite this, she was then discharged to the Mercure Hotel, which Dr Prasad deemed unsuitable. It was on December 21 that she was then readmitted to hospital again, where he said he reiterated the need for 24-hour care, however she was again let go again by the discharge team at the hospital.
CCTV footage of the night before she died, Christmas Day, showed Victoria getting out of a white car on Orchard Street, at around 8.35pm, where she sat on a bench for a short while until around 8.42pm.
After this, footage captured her ‘stumbling’ to beside the car park at the pub, where she was then not found until the following morning lying face down on the floor with two wine bottles beside her.
In a witness statement read out in court, mum Jean Holt said that her daughter had never suffered any health problems growing up and was “sociable” and “outgoing” with “everything to live for”.
It said: “She was an outgoing person with everything to live for. She was doing well with her job and loved socialising with friends and going away on holidays.
“Her problems started when her husband got a promotion at his job. This had a huge impact on Victoria and she started drinking.”
The court heard that the breakdown of her relationship and “custody arrangements” of her young son had an “adverse impact” on her health.
Jean’s statement added: “I feel great sadness at how she passed away and am trying to come to terms with how she did in this way.”
The court heard from Dr Baker, who carried out a post-mortem examination, who confirmed that she had been found with 460mg of alcohol in her urine, as well as “therapeutic” levels of a sedative medication. He added that she showed symptoms of hypothermia and that she had not been wearing appropriate clothing for the cold conditions.
Detective Inspector Lunt also gave evidence to the court about the morning Victoria’s body was found and said paramedics found her “cold and wet at 9.04am at the side of the pub on some cobbles with her handbag, a lighter and empty wine bottles”.
He added: “She was wearing blue pants and a sweater and was not wearing clothing appropriate for the weather conditions. She had been struggling with alcoholism for a number of years and had previously been hospitalised because of it. She had a history of alcohol misuse and drinking to excess to the point where she couldn’t look after herself.”
Support worker Daniel Fleming was informed of the body in the street by the member of the public. He found her “cold to the touch” and “not breathing” but proceeded to use a defibrillator to try and revive her.
Coroner Rachel Syed concluded the cause of death was accidental. She accepted the medical cause of death of being hypothermia and alcohol intoxication.
She said: “Tragically, Victoria had struggled with a very long battle of alcohol misuse that occurred following breakdown in her personal relationship. Post mortems showed Victoria had developed hypothermia whilst under the state of alcohol intoxication the night before she died.
“I am in no doubt she had been drinking excessive amounts in the period leading up to her death. She had a complicated medical history, resulting in many hospital admissions where she was often found in the street and unable to take care of herself.
“She had completed rehabilitation programme but despite this, was unable to abstain from long term alcohol issues. An assessment revealed she was suffering from alcohol related brain damage and would need 24-hour care placement.
“Despite this she was discharged to a hotel and mental health clinician was not notified. She was readmitted on December 21st again and the clinician reiterated she would need 24 hour care.”
She added she will be formally issuing a Regulation 28 prevention of further deaths report to the discharge team at Wigan Hospital because she had “concerns” that she was discharged, despite the repeated recommendations of Dr Passad that Victoria needed a 24 hour care placement.
She also raised concerns about the lack of integrated working between other involved organisations and staff at Wigan Infirmary following a multidisciplinary meeting where a recovery worker supporting Victoria from We Are With You said they were not invited.