Son told tragic mother to call to say she was home safe
THE son of an award-winning businesswoman who was found dead in a snowy garden told her to call him when she arrived home after leaving his 21st birthday party - but never received the call, an inquest heard today.
Champion cheese-maker Mandy Reed's body was discovered in freezing conditions near her home in the village of Scorton, North Yorkshire, after a night out in Richmond celebrating her son's birthday.
Mother-of-two Mrs Reed, 47, was found dead in a neighbour's garden on the afternoon of Sunday February 5.
She ran the Richmond-based Swaledale Cheese Company for 25 years after starting it with her husband David in 1987. Mr Reed died in 2005 aged 46.
Sam Reed told Richmond Coroner's Court that his mother had been out drinking with him and his friends in Richmond the night before she was found dead.
They had originally planned to go to the dog track in Sunderland but decided to stay closer to home as it had been snowing most of the afternoon.
The group had a few drinks in a Wetherspoons pub in the town, before going for an Indian meal nearby. They then returned to the pub and carried on drinking.
At around 10pm, Mrs Reed seemed tired and so Mr Reed offered to go home with her, the inquest heard.
Mr Reed said: "She said 'don't be stupid, it is your birthday, you stay out with your friends.' I said 'well, at least I will walk you to the taxi'.
"I explained to the taxi driver that our house isn't very easy to find. I said stop at the main bus stop and she will walk home from there.
"I went to the back door and told her that I loved her and asked her to ring me when she got home."
The taxi driver, Richard Bateman, told the court he stopped three times on the way back to Scorton so Mrs Reed could get some air as she was groaning and seemed ill.
When they arrived in the village, he described helping Mrs Reed out of the taxi and her not paying the fare.
Mr Bateman said: "We sat for a while and I asked her if she was going to pay the £10 something fare.
"She just wouldn't or couldn't get out of the car so I got out myself and helped her out.
"I leaned into the car to see if there was a handbag or anything like that and all I could find was a furry boot.
"She just took hold of the boot and wandered off into Grammar School Close.
"She was staggering when she walked off. I wouldn't say she was very drunk but she was staggering."
Mr Reed stayed at a friend's house and returned home the next afternoon to find his mother was not there.
After calling some of Mrs Reed's friends and his sister, Louise, Mr Reed still could not find his mother and so he called the police When they arrived in the village they went into a neighbour's garden while looking for Mrs Reed's home.
There they found Mrs Reed's body, lying near a shrubbery. She was only wearing one boot.
Dr Peter Cooper, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Mrs Reed's body, said she died of a combination of acute alcohol intoxication and exposure to cold.
He said in a statement read out in court that Mrs Reed's blood contained 370mg of alcohol per 100ml - four and a half times the legal driving limit.
It was a level that "would correspond to a severe level of intoxication often leading to death, either from choking on vomit or respiratory degradation."
The coroner, Robert Turnbull, accepted the findings of the post-mortem examination.
He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.