Mother took lethal dose of pain killers, inquest heard

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A vulnerable mother took a lethal dose of pain killers after telling her family she feared a reassessment of her Disability Living Allowance, a coroner was told.

Sarah Clarke was in constant leg pain and feared a Personal Independent Payment assessment would take away the DLA money she had survived on for more than 10 years.

The 35-year-old, of Westfield Crescent, Market Weighton, told her partner she felt suicidal as doctors were talking about amputating her left leg after years of chronic ulcers which left her needing a disability scooter.

Her partner Steven Parkin, a mechanic, told Hull Coroners’ Court said when he first met Ms Clarke she was lively, outgoing, very active mother who cared for her son. He said she became vulnerable after battling addiction.

He told the inquest: “In the weeks before her death she was told she would have to attend for an assessment for the Personal Independence Payment. She had a visit scheduled for the end of October. She was worried that she would lose her money and have to attend the job centre to find work that she would find very difficult.”

Sarah was opposed to the amputation and it played on her mind. He said he had spoken to her the night before her death. She told me: “I have had enough. I don’t want to be here anymore. That was because of the pain she was suffering.”

Mr Parkin had left her well on October 6 when he went to work – but she had not responded to telephone calls. When he got home he found Ms Clarke face down on the kitchen floor.

On the kitchen top were crushed tablets, a bottle of juice and her mobile telephone. Mr Parkin said: “It looked like she had taken an overdose.”

The coroner read a report from Ms Clarke’s GP that said she had tried to take an overdose in August 2016. She had refused medical assistance, but after recovering she told family and friends she would not do it again.

Hull and East Yorkshire Coroner Rosemary Baxter said: “She was worried about the assessment for the Personal Independent Payment. She said she had taken overdoses in 2003 and 2016 complaining of constant leg pain.”

She said she had no doubt the combined affect of drugs she took killed her, but added: “While she died at her own hand, I have some doubt she intended do so. I cannot rule out that this death was a tragic accident. She may have taken too much medication in an attempt to block out the pain she was in from her legs.”

The coroner recorded the death was an “open conclusion”. She added: “As always my thoughts and condolences are with Ms Clarke’s family for their tragic loss.”