Alcoholic drank herself to death in Norwich flat

A coroner has called for tighter regulation on the sale of cheap alcohol after a woman was found dead at a Norwich flat after consuming eight times the legal drink-drive limit.

Care assistant Eva Bannister, 23, was found dead at Aspland Road, near Riverside in Norwich, in the early hours of February 20 last year. Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said tests found 640 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of her blood – the highest level he had ever seen.

At the inquest in Thorpe Road, Norwich, yesterday, Mr Armstrong said that the case highlighted the human tragedy of alcoholism and called for laws to curb the sale of cheap alcohol.

The inquest heard that Miss Bannister, from Beverley in Humberside, had first travelled to Norfolk to attend a rehabilitation course in Mundesley. She met her boyfriend, Michael Lothan, on this course and had been visiting him at the time of her death.

In a statement read to the inquest, Mr Lothan said they had both been drinking the night before her death. He had gone out and came home to discover her seemingly unconscious in bed.

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He said: 'I thought she looked uncomfortable so I nudged her. I was cold so I couldn't tell if she was cold or not. I tickled her feet and again she didn't respond.

'I don't know how to explain it, but I knew she didn't look right. I ran out of the house to get help.'

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The inquest heard that Mr Lothan ran to nearby Prince of Wales Road to seek help from the SOS Bus, which offers help to people in the city's nightclub district. He spoke to the police who contacted the ambulance service.

Police and paramedics arrived at about 4.30am, shortly after Mr Lothan raised the alarm. They were unable to revive her.

He stressed that Miss Bannister had never taken drugs and said: 'She was a really good person. Me and her family were trying to sort her out.'

Mr Lothan added that on a normal day, she would drink six litres of cider. 'She had her ups and downs but the downs were normally associated with the alcohol,' he said.

A report from her doctor, Robin Pearson, said that Miss Bannister had suffered from bulimia in the past and was on prescribed anti-depressants.

Mr Armstrong recorded a narrative verdict, saying: 'Eva Bannister died as a result of acute alcohol intoxication in the context of a chronic alcohol dependant illness.'

He added: 'Alcoholism is an illness and should be seen as such. It is absolutely clear that she drank herself to death: she simply couldn't win her battle with the bottle.

'It also demonstrates the need for measures to reduce the availability of cheap alcohol.'

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