Inquest hears of mysterious pool death

THE unexplained death of a young healthy woman while swimming on holiday in Corfu may have been Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, an inquest heard.Katherine Richards, 25, had gone for a two-week holiday with her American boyfriend James Smith in August 2003, when she was taken mysteriously ill and died.

THE unexplained death of a young healthy woman while swimming on holiday in Corfu may have been Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, an inquest heard.

Katherine Richards, 25, had gone for a two-week holiday with her American boyfriend James Smith in August 2003, when she was taken mysteriously ill and died.

An inquest held in Bury St Edmunds yesterday was told how on August 6, the nanny from Red Lodge, near Newmarket, had been swimming in the apartment complex pool where the couple had been staying, when she suddenly got into difficulties.

The inquest was told she decided to swim the length of the pool underwater and emerged apparently fit and well next to her boyfriend.


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He turned away for a split second as she lent on the poolside, still in the water, and then looked back to see her flailing underwater.

Mr Smith said in a statement she “went down kicking like a corkscrew” and he had tried to grab her legs but had been kicked away.

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She was dragged out of the pool and immediately attended by a holidaying paramedic who had seen the incident. A doctor soon arrived on the scene and administered adrenalin, but was unable to revive Miss Richards.

Post-mortems in Corfu and at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury, had failed to establish the cause of death, the inquest was told.

Barrie Cottrell a consultant pathologist, said there had been suggestions that she may have had a reaction to a bee or wasp sting, had an epileptic seizure or drowned. They could not be ruled out, he said, but there was no evidence to support these suggestions and they seemed unlikely.

He said it was impossible to prove, but probable she had died from a heart defect, which could strike in apparently healthy young people and was termed Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

As the cause of death was not clear, Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded an open verdict.

Dr Dean also apologised for the delay in the inquest taking place, which he said been due to difficulties in obtaining documents from the Greek authorities.

After the verdict, Miss Richards' father Victor paid tribute to his daughter who called “a lovely, happy girl.”

He added: “It has been frustrating these last couple of years, I'm not disappointed with the outcome of the inquest as it is sort of what I expected.

“You can't put something like this behind you, you just have to try and get on with your life, you learn to live with it, but it is very difficult.”

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