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Unanswered questions over how young parents died at home

PUBLISHED: 17:16 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 26 February 2020

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: Archant

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: Archant

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Questions have been left unanswered over how two young parents died following a get-together at their home, an inquest has heard.

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate died in their home in Providence Place, Norwich. Picture: Applegate and Robinson familyGaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate died in their home in Providence Place, Norwich. Picture: Applegate and Robinson family

Gaynor Robinson, 19, and Billy Applegate, 23, died on June 1 last year in their ground floor flat in Providence Place, Thorpe Hamlet, Norwich.

An inquest opening in October heard the cause of death for both was drug-related.

But a full inquest hearing on Tuesday disputed this, after a number of statements from witnesses were dismissed by the coroner as "inconsistent and inaccurate".

Norfolk Coroner's Court heard the couple invited around a dozen friends to their flat on the night of May 31, 2019.

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: ArchantGaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: Archant

Statements from several witnesses who attended the social gathering described the pair taking prescription medication and drinking alcohol on the night.

But Det Sgt Peter Wilson, who gave live evidence, said there were inconsistencies in the witness statements, with differing accounts on the types of drugs that were taken.

Some of these accounts were not supported by toxicology evidence.

The couple's friend, Raquel Bunn, said in her statement, that was read out in court, that Miss Robinson was asleep and Mr Applegate was awake by the time she left at 3.30am.

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate died in their home in Providence Place, Norwich. Picture: Applegate and Robinson familyGaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate died in their home in Providence Place, Norwich. Picture: Applegate and Robinson family

Another friend, Jordan Powley, said in his statement that he had slept at the flat and had woken at 8.15am the following morning.

He said he found the couple lying next to each other on a mattress in the lounge and both were unresponsive.

Emergency services were called at around 9.50am and the couple were pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem examination found both had low concentrations of prescription medication and alcohol in their blood.

Gaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: ArchantGaynor Robinson and Billy Applegate were found dead in their Norwich flat in Providence Place. Picture: Archant

The inquest heard the drugs were not prescribed to either Miss Robinson or Mr Applegate.

The medical cause of death for both was initially recorded as mixed drug toxicity, but senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said she disputed this and will amend the cause of death to unascertained.

The inquest heard Miss Robinson and Mr Applegate struggled with their mental health.

In her statement, Miss Robinson's mother, Caroline, described her daughter as "headstrong, loyal and very kind, and always thought of other people".

She added: "She was always very open and honest and would talk through her problems, Billy was very closed and struggled to talk about his emotions, but they really loved each other.

"Billy was so excited when Gaynor was pregnant, they both made sure their daughter never went without anything."

After more than an hour of considering the evidence, Ms Lake said: "There have been a number of different accounts and inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the witness statements.

"It is very difficult to find out what happened during the course of the social event and it leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

"The toxicology report showed they had minimal amounts of alcohol in their blood."

She gave a narrative conclusion that both Miss Robinson and Mr Applegate died following a social event at their home, and that the evidence does not reveal the events leading up to their deaths.

"They were not careless"

The conclusion came as a relief for both the Applegate and Robinson family who attended the hearing.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Robinson said she was pleased with Ms Lake's and Det Sgt Wilson's comments about the witness statements.

"I am actually chuffed in what's been said," she said. "The truth of the matter for me is it never made sense how they died."

Miss Robinson's sister, Christa Chambers, said: "They weren't careless and they did care about their daughter.

"As a family we are lost without them, but I will look at her little girl and see my little sister and Billy.

"She is such good-natured just like her mum and dad."

Mr Applegate's cousin, Poppy, said the family had been hounded by people on social media following previous reports of the couple's death being linked to drugs.

She said: "It was not a true representation of who they were, they were good people and they loved their daughter and their family.

"Unfortunately, we live in a society where something gets put in the paper and people make comments."


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