Party drug ketamine killed Hackney artist Louise Cattell, coroner rules
10:46 27 May 2011
The death of Louise Cattell in Hackney should be a stark warning to other ketamine users, a coroner said today at the inquest into her death.
The 21-year-old of Evering Road, Upper Clapton, died in the bath in the early hours of March 2 as a direct result of taking the party drug earlier that evening, Dr Selena Lynch ruled at Poplar Coroners Court.
Louise, a former student at London College of Fashion, had cooked a meal for friends and drunken three beers before watching a film in the bath to help her sleep, the inquest heard.
But it was the high dose of powerful anaesthetic ketamine that Louise took that later killed her.
The class C drug can cause hallucinations and out-of-of-body experiences, followed by numbness, vomiting and heart malfunction.
Recording a verdict of non-dependant drug abuse, Dr Lynch said: “The joy of young people - of being young and having young people around us - is that they are fire and free.
“They know about risks and consequences but they think it is going to happen to someone else.
“Ketamine is a particular risk because it is unpredictable. Like some other drugs of abuse it is very difficult to know what the consequence might be. In this case a young woman has lost her life and her family are bereft.
“It would be a very fine memorial to her if others might just stop and think. Even if one life is saved, that would be a very fine thing for the family.”
Louise’s father, Ross Cattell, 53, has been working alongside his wife Vicky to raise awareness of the drug.
In a joint statement today, he said: “It is clear today that our darling Louise died as a result of taking ketamine.
“This is a drug that is taken by hundreds of thousands of people according to statistics, many of whom regard it as relatively safe.
“We hope that by telling people about ketamine they will see that it is far from harmless. It is not only addictive but can cause permanent damage to the brain and other organs like the bladder.
“It may be cheap and easy to get hold of but does that really make it worth the risk of not being able to get or hold down a decent job or spending the rest of your life through a plastic tube?”