Mother of 4 dies after sharing bottle and half of red wine with a friend


A primary school teacher who rarely drank alcohol died after consuming a bottle and a half of red wine in one afternoon, an inquest heard.

Mother-of-four Gill Howe, 46, was drinking in the garden with a work friend on a sunny day last June when she ‘became confused and slumped forward in her chair’. 

Her friend fell asleep but when she awoke could not rouse Mrs Howe, who was not a regular drinker and often chose to be the designated driver on family outings. 

Paramedics were scrambled to her house in Beverley, East Yorkshire, but she died in the ambulance on the way to hospital, Hull Coroner’s Court heard. 

The teacher lived with her husband, Ed, and four children Grace, 11, Peter, nine, Laura, seven, and Evelyn, five.

She was described by her family and friends as ‘full of life, always laughing and happy.’

The family described her death as a ‘tragic accident’ and said what happened ‘may not have been the case in someone used to drinking.’ 

An inquest into her death held at Hull Coroner’s Court heard that on June 29 last year, Mr Howe arrived home to find his wife unconcsious. 

He called an ambulance and paramedics carried out CPR before taking her to Hull Royal Infirmary, where she died en route in the early hours of June 30.

Mrs Howe’s husband was at work and was told of her tragic death when he returned home the following morning. 

He told the court that on June 29 the pair had gone to a summer fair together before he left for work at around 4.30pm.

Mr Howe said: ‘That was the last time I saw her. I sent her a message at 9.30pm saying thank you for everything and she said there was no need at all and ‘we all love you so much’ and that was my last contact with her.

‘She was a devoted mum and a fantastic teacher and was loved by all those who had the pleasure of knowing her.’

Dr Justin Cooke, a pathologist who carried out a post mortem, said Mrs Howe had died due to respiratory failure as a result of alcohol intoxication.

He said a toxicology report showed Mrs Howe had just under four times the amount of alcohol of the legal drink-drive limit in her system, but said that, as Mrs Howe was not a regular drinker, she was not able to tolerate as much alcohol as someone who regularly drank.

He also maintained that at the time of her death the level of alcohol was likely to have been lower as Mrs Howe was non tolerant to alcohol, which therefore increased the levels.

Paying tribute to Mrs Howe, her father, Peter Sykes, said: ‘She was a wonderful daughter who was devoted to her family and we will miss her greatly.

She had four children and loved them greatly and would do anything to make them happy.’

Her sister, Caroline Ostler, also paid tribute to the 46-year-old and said she had seen Mrs Howe the day before her death.

She said: ‘We spoke every day, often several times a day. We were the best of best friends and for that I will be forever grateful.

‘I’m sure she lives on in her children and I am proud and happy I had 40 years with her and I am very fortunate for that.’

Coroner, Rosemary Baxter concluded that Mrs Howe’s death was alcohol-related.

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