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Woman died after taking cyanide dad bought 50 years ago

A DUBLIN woman tragically died after taking cyanide from a bottle of the deadly poison bought by her father 50 years ago, an inquest heard.

Noreen Rutledge (26) died from cyanide poisoning at St Vincent's Hospital on May 29 last year, four days after she was found collapsed on the bathroom floor of her family home in Mount Merrion, Blackrock in Co Dublin.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that her father Brian Rutledge bought the poison when he was 14 to use as a suppressant for bees. He said that he had forgotten about the bottle but it was discovered when the family were clearing out his mother's house a number of years before.

He told coroner Dr Brian Farrell that he had purchased the bottle in a chemist 50 years previously and it was clearly labelled "potassium cyanide". When the bottle was discovered in his daughter's room, Mr Rutledge checked and found very little of it was gone.

Ms Rutledge had a history of depression but had never indicated that she intended to take her own life.

Her mother Orla Rutledge, who found her daughter collapsed in the bathroom, said that in the days before she had been "very down and lounging around in her pyjamas".

She was breathing but unconscious when paramedics arrived at the scene. They took her to St Vincent's Hospital where doctors initially suspected that she had contracted meningitis.

However, the day after her admission, Ms Rutledge's brother found the bottle of cyanide in her room and tests confirmed that it was present in her blood.

She was given treatment for cyanide poisoning. Her condition continued to deteriorate however, and brain stem death was confirmed four days after her collapse. The postmortem confirmed that death was due to potassium cyanide poisoning.

Her sister Susan Rutledge said that "Noreen read every book that Agatha Christie ever wrote" and had a keen interest in science.

She was "100pc sure" her sister would have known what was in the bottle, she added.

Returning an open verdict, Dr Farrell said the death was self-inflicted but, in the absence of a note or letter, he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was a suicide.

hnews@herald.ie


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