Monday 18 December 2017

‘My daughter knew danger of hanging out with Pete Doherty’

Miss Whitehead, the great niece of the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, was not a drug addict and her trip was purely for work,
Miss Whitehead, the great niece of the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, was not a drug addict and her trip was purely for work," said her mother

Richard Alleyne

London heiress Robyn Whitehead knew she was entering a "dangerous situation" with the rock star Pete Doherty just before her death from a drug overdose, her mother told her inquest.

But despite feeling upset and unprotected she stayed "strong" for the sake of her work, a documentary about the drug addict singer-songwriter, she added.

Hours later the 27-year-old granddaughter of Terry Goldsmith, the ecologist, died from heroin poisoning at the flat of Peter Wolfe, one of the performer's friends.

The circumstances leading up to the filmmaker's death emerged during an inquest at Poplar Coroner Court, east London.

Her mother Dodi Whitehead, a cousin of Jemima Khan and Zac Goldsmith, told how she had left her daughter at their family home in Kettering, Northamptonshire, five days before her death to go on a short break.

She was expecting her to still be there when she returned but found she had left for London to complete her work on the film featuring Doherty, Wolfe and another friend Alan Wass.

Mrs Whitehead, who denied her daughter was a regular drug user, said that filmmaker had been "upset" and did not feel "completely protected".

But she carried on with her stay in order to complete her work.

She had spent the last 10 days of her life making a film called Road to Albion about the drug addicted former Libertines frontman.

Mrs Whitehead said: "She said she had seen Doherty and Alan Wass that day but she was now with Wolfe and she was going to stay one more night because she had to because she wanted to do this recording so she was going to stay one last night then come back.

"She had been upset, I think it was something to do with her work.

"I understand that it was completely connected with her work, it wasn't about hanging out with them.

"She had confided in me and there is no question she had taken drugs in the past. I feel she knew she was working in a very kind of dangerous situation and she went into that with her eyes open but nevertheless she didn't really feel completely protected."

She last spoke to her daughter at 8pm on January 23, the night before she died, and her daughter told her that she had to stay another night because an arrangement she had made to go to a studio had fallen through.

"Among the messages was one she sent me saying 'I am being so strong'", Mrs Whitehead said.

Just hours before her death footage showed her smoking a crack cocaine out of a brandy bottle improvised into a pipe with the Babyshambles frontman, 32, Wolfe, 42, and Wass, 30.

Miss Whitehead, the great niece of the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, was not a drug addict and her trip was purely for work," said her mother, who is separated from her daughter's father, the Sixties counter-culture film-maker Peter.

She said her daughter had come back to live with her and she was not taking drugs whilst she was at home, but after her death she found drugs paraphernalia in her barn.

Mrs Whitehead said: "The reason she came to live with me was because she didn't want to be involved in drugs, she wanted to protect herself. She was not a drug user and I wanted that to be clear."

But on the evening of January 24 Wolfe went to wake her in his flat in Hackney, east London, and found her unresponsive and called the police.

Professor Robert Flanagan, consultant toxicologist at Kings College hospital, told the court that she had died of heroin poisoning although levels in her blood were not high she was a "naive" user.

A Post mortem also showed that she had Diazepam and cocaine traces in her system, but these are not thought to have contributed to her death.

Professor Flanagan said: "I think it is very important that there was not a history of regular heroin user because in my opinion the cause of death was heroin poisoning.

"Heroin is a very toxic drug, especially in someone who hasn't been taking it regularly before, this is the danger.

"Even though the blood concentrations were relatively low it doesn't mean that the effect of morphine causing respiratory depression was not the cause of death."

PC Amy Burbeck said: "There was a crack pipe, there were cling film wraps with white residue in the bottom and a bathroom which had a metal box of syringes.

"There was dried blood spattered on the walls."

When she asked the owner of the flat Gillian Samworth, Doherty's adopted mother, about the blood she replied: "Pete Doherty used to live here."

After officers investigating the tragedy viewed her films, Doherty was jailed for six months for possession of crack, Wolfe was jailed for 12 months for supplying the class A drug to heiress and Wass was given a three year conditional discharge for possession.

The hearing continues.

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