Polegate woman died of overdose, inquest hears

Eastbourne Town Hall
Eastbourne Town Hall

A Polegate woman died of an overdose, a coroner’s court heard today (Thursday, March 30).

Shirley Benford, of Southfield, died on December 8 aged 67 of what a coroner at an Eastbourne inquest said was “clearly an overdose”.

The former administrator is thought to have accidentally taken too much medicine for chronic pain.

The court heard a toxicology report showed high morphine levels in her blood and four times the upper limit of mirtazapine.

Mrs Benford had suffered from chronic abdominal pain for years which had left her bed bound at one point, said her GP Sandra Robins.

The doctor said, “She was really quite disabled, in a wheelchair for quite a long time.

“But she managed to get mobile and started walking about. She was the fittest I’d ever seen her towards the end of her life.

“She was in a good place the last time I saw her. Her brother had been staying with her and she was happy.”

A statement from Mrs Benford’s brother Gerald West described his sister as having “a very bubbly personality”.

He is thought to be the last person to see her alive.

She was found dead in her home by police after her brother raised the alarm, having not heard from her for a while.

Mr West said, “I think because she wasn’t eating properly or walking it could just be she wanted to sleep and something happened causing her to pass away peacefully.”

Coroner Alan Craze said there was no evidence the overdose had been taken with a view of bringing her life to an end.

Mrs Benford leaves behind her husband Keith.