Father pays tribute to 'lovely' daughter who died at his home

County Hall, Norwich.

An inquest into the death of Susan Katharine Bates was held at Norfolk County Council coroner's court - Credit: Denise Bradley

A woman who died unexpectantly at her father’s home had suffered from long-term health conditions, exacerbated following a serious car accident, an inquest has heard. 

Susan Katharine Bates, 48, of Marlborough Green Crescent, Martham, near Great Yarmouth, died on the morning of July 23, 2021. 

An inquest into her death on Friday, March 25 was told the mother-of-five suffered from a variety of health conditions including osteoporosis, epilepsy, seizures, and lung cancer. 

She had also had a lifelong problem with her hips. 

Following a car accident in Lincolnshire in 2016 that left her with “serious” injuries, she remained “in constant and serious pain”, her father, Anthony Bates, explained. 

“She then had pain killers for life and took them until she died. 

“She took prescription pain killers three times a day, every day, with morphine as and when required. 

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“She was medically very ill. 

“Daily, she found life very difficult.”  

At the time of her death, she had been on palliative care, while her father cared for her full-time from his address at Juler Close, North Walsham. 

Speaking at the inquest, Mr Bates described how his “lovely” daughter had rapidly lost weight since her last medicine review in December 2020, which saw her plummet to around six-and-a-half stone.

On the morning of her death, shortly after waking at 6am to take her medication, Mr Bates went to get her a drink. When he returned approximately 15 seconds later, Miss Bates had slumped forward in her bed, hitting her eye on a radiator.

Mr Bates managed to catch her and saved her from falling onto the floor, before she stopped breathing. He then dialled 999 and was advised to lay her flat on the ground and start CPR.

Paramedics arrived soon after but confirmed her death at 7.21am. 

A post-mortem and toxicology report named the cause of death as opiate toxicity with an underlying contributory cause of fatty liver. The levels of prescribed morphine had been present at toxic levels in her blood.

The report added: “Significance of the morphine concentration is highly dependent on the tolerance of the deceased at the time of death, however the concentration present in the post-mortem blood is of concern and could pose a risk of serious toxicity in many individuals and is the most likely cause of death in the case.” 

Mr Bates added: “She went downhill rapidly three days prior to her death. 

“She was racked by pain 24/7 and at times she would just scream out with the pain. The pain got too much. 

“At the time of her death, she suffered a considerable weight loss. She was very, very small and it is possible the amount of medication she was taking was too much for her body at that time.   

“She lost a lot of weight and in my mind with the amount of weight loss and the amount of medication she was taking, I've got a feeling personally that her body couldn’t take the amount of medication prescribed.” 

Simon Milburn, assistant coroner for Norfolk, concluded she died as a result of medical misadventure.  

Miss Bates was born on November 25, 1972, in North Walsham. She died on July 23, 2021.