Sunday 26 October 2014

79 syringes, burnt spoons and weekly drug tests: Peaches' secret drug addiction revealed

Inquest into her death hears she had been taking the substitute drug methadone for a number of years

Published 23/07/2014 | 10:27

Peaches Geldof was a heroin addict who had been taking the substitute drug methadone in the two and a half years before her death, an inquest has heard.

The journalist, model and television presenter had started using heroin again in February this year, her husband, Thomas Cohen, told the hearing.

And he had witnessed her flushing drugs she had hidden in the loft of their home in Wrotham, Kent, down the toilet.

Police investigating Peaches' death found "importation quality" heroin stashed in a black cloth bag inside a cupboard over a bedroom door and drugs paraphernalia in the property, the inquest heard.

Thomas Cohen departs after attending the inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof on July 23, 2014 in Gravesend, England.  (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Thomas Cohen departs after attending the inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof on July 23, 2014 in Gravesend, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
GRAVESEND, ENGLAND - JULY 23:  Thomas Cohen departs after attending the inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof on July 23, 2014 in Gravesend, England.  (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Thomas Cohen departs after attending the inquest into the death of Peaches Geldof on July 23, 2014 in Gravesend, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Peaches with her husband Thomas Cohen and their baby son Astala.

Forensic scientist Dr Peter Cain analysed the brown powder found by investigators and concluded that it was 6.91 grams of heroin with a purity of 61%.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham, who led the investigation, told the inquest that the drugs would have been worth £350 to £550.

The officer said that it "far exceeded" the 26% purity usually found at street level.

Mr Fotheringham said: "The black bag also contained 34 medical syringes, some were with needles and some without, some were sealed in original packaging and some contained traces of a brown coloured residue.

"There were also 45 packaged and sealed syringes, alcohol wipes and cotton buds."

Police also found a pair of knotted black tights under Peaches' body and two other pairs of tights with knots in them elsewhere in the property.

A burnt spoon was also found under the bed where Peaches was found dead together with cotton wool, and other burnt spoons were located throughout the house.

The 25-year-old was found slumped on the bed in the spare room by Mr Cohen, with one leg hanging down to the floor and the other tucked underneath her after she failed to answer the phone.

The musician confirmed that he had gone to stay with his parents in south east London with the couple's two son's, Astala, two, and one-year-old Phaedra, and that she had seemed fine when he spoke to her on several occasions over the weekend.

The inquest heard that Mr Cohen's father, Keith, had seen Ms Geldof when he dropped the younger child home to her and she appeared fine, and Mr Cohen said he had last spoken to his wife at 5.40pm on Sunday April 6.

After failing to get hold of his wife the next day, Mr Cohen and his mother returned to the property with Astala and found Ms Geldof's body, the hearing in Gravesend was told.

The model had been having weekly drugs tests which she had told her husband were negative but, even though he had not seen her take drugs, he became concerned that she might be, the inquest was told.

North West Kent Coroner Roger Hatch said Ms Geldof had been finding it difficult to come off methadone although she was reducing the dosage because she did not want to take it any more.

Mr Cohen had spoken to his wife about her drugs use and she retrieved heroin from the loft in February this year and flushed it down the toilet, the inquest was told.

Following this, Mr Cohen would check the loft for drugs himself but found nothing, Mr Hatch said.

But Mr Cohen became aware from police inquiries following her death that drugs were found in the house.

A post-mortem examination carried out at Darenth Valley Hospital found a puncture mark on the front of her right elbow and another at the front of her right thigh.

Old puncture marks were also found on her left thigh, the inquest was told.

Mr Fotheringham told the inquest that forensic scientist Emma Harris found a high level of morphine in Ms Geldof's blood, suggesting she died "shortly after taking heroin" and that it was "likely" the substance played a role in her death.

In her report, Dr Harris said: "Persons taking heroin on a regular basis develop a tolerance to the drug, and such individuals can use doses that would be toxic, or fatal, to people with no tolerance.

"However, tolerance to heroin and other opiate drugs appears to be lost fairly rapidly when users cease to use the drug, and deaths commonly occur in people who have previously been tolerant and have returned to using heroin."

After hearing the evidence, Mr Hatch concluded that Ms Geldof's death was drugs-related and that heroin had played a part in her death.

He said that although she had struggled to come off methadone because of her addiction to heroin, by November 2013 Ms Geldof was found to be free of heroin and reducing her methadone.

But a message found on her phone by Mr Cohen in February this year which indicated she was using drugs again, he told the hearing.

Mr Hatch said: "It's said that the death of Peaches Geldof-Cohen is history repeating itself but this 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."

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