Monday 20 May 2019

Cocaine and alcohol warning at inquest of Love Island’s Sophie Gradon

 

Sophie Gradon
Sophie Gradon

Tom Wilkinson

A coroner has issued a warning about mixing alcohol and cocaine after Love Island star Sophie Gradon died by suicide having consumed both substances.

The 32-year-old was found at her home in Ponteland, Northumberland, by her boyfriend and his brother in June, an inquest in North Shields, North Tyneside, on Thursday, heard.

Coroner Eric Armstrong said there was no evidence of any third party involvement in the reality star's death.

Toxicology tests showed she had a blood reading of 201mg per 100ml of blood - around three times the legal driving limit, as well as cocaine.

Former Miss Great Britain and Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Former Miss Great Britain and Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The coroner said research in the US said the combination was known to make someone 16 times more likely to kill themselves.

He said: "If Sophie's death is to serve any purpose at all, that message should go out far and wide."

Miss Gradon's boyfriend Aaron Armstrong also died by suicide three weeks later, also having also taken cocaine and alcohol, and the coroner made a similar ruling at his inquest last month.

The couple were not staying together on June 19, the night before she was found, because each was looking after their parents' dogs, but they had exchanged loving messages.

He was concerned when he did not hear from her on June 20 and went round with his brother Ryan and they broke in when they looked through the living room window.

They found her in the living room with her mobile phones nearby, and attempts to give her CPR continued until paramedics arrived.

A thorough police investigation, including a post-mortem examination conducted by a Home Office pathologist, followed.

Detective Sergeant Neill Jobling told the inquest Miss Gradon had previously had mental health issues, including low self-esteem and anxiety and had been prescribed medication for it which she was still taking when she died.

The last person to have contact with her was Sondeep Gill, a friend who like Miss Gradon, also knew Paul Burns, a popular Newcastle bar boss, who had recently died.

Mr Gill told detectives that she was upset about Mr Burns' death and expressed suicidal thoughts in their early hours telephone call.

The detective told the inquest that the model said to Mr Gill that "she struggles with the world, no-one knows why or how" and she "couldn't figure out life but she was trying".

Mr Gill told police that her voice was slurred in their phone call, and that he had tried to keep the conversation light during the 48-minute call.

Mr Jobling said: "His perception is she had had a drink and was feeling emotional.

"She told him several times he had saved her."

At some point he gained the impression she had dropped her phone and after trying to text her, he went to sleep.

The detective said: "He later found Sophie had died which left him feeling sick."

On June 19, Miss Gradon had exchanged messages with her friend Hannah McGuire who later told police she was "happy and did not appear troubled".

The coroner said the former Miss Great Britain would not have acted as she did if she had not taken cocaine and alcohol, and that made her behave irrationally.

He said: "The combination I am given to understand is used by those who believe it brings on a so-called high much quicker.

"What they may not appreciate is it is also now thought to give rise to violent thoughts, and those thoughts can be against the self."

The coroner expressed his condolences to her family and friends.

Miss Gradon's parents were not present for the hearing.

Fellow Love Island contestant Mike Thalassitis was found dead last month, prompting calls from Health Secretary Matt Hancock for reality shows to do more for competitors once they have become famous.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

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