Wednesday 16 August 2017

Amy didn't want to die, her doctor tells inquest

Family 'relieved' to finally find out what happened to singer

John Fahey

SINGER Amy Winehouse told her doctor in the days before her death she "didn't want to die" and was "looking forward to the future".

The 'Back To Black' singer was found dead at her north London home on July 23, having been poisoned by the huge amount of vodka she had drunk.

An inquest yesterday heard she was more than five times the legal drink-drive limit at the time of her death.

The star had hit the bottle after being dry for three weeks.

She had 416mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood in her system -- the legal driving limit in Britain is 80mg.

Dr Christina Romete, her GP, said the fact the singer was dry for three weeks fitted a pattern in which Winehouse would abstain from alcohol for weeks only to drink again for weeks at a time. She said she warned the 27-year-old of the many dangers if she kept drinking.

"The advice I had given to Amy over a long period of time was about all the effects alcohol can have on the system, including respiratory depression and death, heart problems, fertility problems and liver problems," Dr Romete said.

Winehouse, who was taking medication to cope with alcohol withdrawal and anxiety, was reviewed last year by a psychologist and psychiatrist about her drinking but "had her own views" about treatment.

"She was very determined to do everything her own way," said Dr Romete. "Including any form of therapy."

The GP, who treated the singer for several years, said her patient fully understood the risks of continuing to drink.

Dr Romete saw Winehouse the night before she died. She was tipsy but coherent and said she did not know if she was going to stop drinking but "she did not want to die".

"She was looking forward to the future," said the doctor as Winehouse's tearful parents, Mitch and Janis, listened in the public gallery.

They said later it was "some relief" to finally find out what had happened to their daughter.

Winehouse was clear of illegal drugs when she died. However, police found three bottles of vodka in her bedroom -- two large, one small.

The inquest heard that at 200mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood, someone would lose control of their reflexes and 350mg was considered a fatal level.

A post-mortem examination showed Winehouse's internal organs to be healthy but the pathologist who examined her body attributed cause of death to alcohol toxicity.

Such large alcohol levels could have stopped her breathing and sent her into a coma.

The night before she died, Winehouse was heard laughing in her bedroom and watching television and listening to music.

Andrew Morris, her live-in security guard, said he last spoke to her at 2am on the Saturday.

He checked in on her at 10am that day but did not talk to her and left her in bed thinking she was asleep. Five hours later he called the emergency services. It was usual for her to lie in, he said. However at 3pm he checked again.

Reliving the moment he discovered her body, he said: "When I went in the room she was lying on the bed in the same position from 10am.

"I was immediately concerned, went over and checked to see if she was OK.

"I checked on her and realised she wasn't breathing and had no pulse so called the emergency services."

Winehouse was pronounced dead soon after by paramedics.

St Pancras coroner Suzanne Greenway recorded a verdict of misadventure.

She said: "She had been specifically advised of the harm to her health and her life.

"However, she had her own views about therapy, particularly of the treatment she would accept and whether she would continue with it."

She said Winehouse "voluntarily" drank the alcohol and added that "the unintended consequence of such potentially fatal levels was her sudden and unexpected death".

The star's family did not comment upon leaving the inquest but issued a statement, saying: "It is some relief to finally find out what happened to Amy.

"The court heard that Amy was battling hard to conquer her problems with alcohol and it is a source of great pain to us that she could not win in time.

"It underlines how important our work with the Amy Winehouse Foundation is to us, to help as many young people as we can in her name."

Irish Independent

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