Mum died from alcohol self detoxing on first day of Looe holiday

Melanie Garner-Kaye died at a caravan site in Looe on the first day of a Cornwall holiday on June 30 last year
Melanie Garner-Kaye died at a caravan site in Looe on the first day of a Cornwall holiday on June 30 last year -Credit:The Johnson family /

A beloved mum who battled bereavement with alcohol for years died on the first day of a caravan holiday in Cornwall from self-detoxing, an inquest into her death heard. Melanie Jane Garner-Kaye died on June 30 last year at a caravan site near Looe on the first day of a family holiday. The inquest heard how Melanie had been a loving mum who was dedicated to her three children throughout her life.

At the time of her death her family paid tribute to her saying: "If you ask anyone who knew her they would tell you she could write a hefty book with all her stories, whether they were happy, sad or funny. They would also describe Melanie as; witty, funny, caring, giving and the best friend that anybody could wish to have.

"She found purpose with being a mother and would never let her babies grow up at all. She worked as carer and loved looking after people. Melanie was a very strong woman. She had the ability to light up any room she walked in. Melanie loved company and having all her friends and family around her was when she was at her happiest. The world has suffered a huge loss at the passing of Melanie and there will be no one like her again. She was one of a kind."

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The 48-year-old from the Rotherham area had however suffered from serious life traumas, losing her younger and older brothers when they were both young and losing her mum when Melanie was 12.

Her partner of 30 years and the father of their children Tim Johnson, told the inquest held in Truro today (Wednesday, May 1) that Melanie had tried all her life to get over the deaths of her loved ones but never could.

He told the hearing that her family was everything to Melanie and their children had played a huge part in her life. He said that 10 years or so ago the family discovered that Melanie had started to drink in excess, adding: "She was a mum at home looking after the children and she got to drinking and eventually we found out. She went to her GP to try and help and attended rehab in Doncaster for a while. She kept away from drinking for three to four years but she started drinking again."

Mr Johnson said that Melanie suffered from depression and anxiety and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago but struggled with keeping on top of her medication. He told the hearing that after periods of drinking Melanie would try to self detox on her own. He said that three or four years ago, the children found her collapsed on the floor of the family home after she had tried to go cold turkey and suffered from some alcohol withdrawal seizure.

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On June 30 last year, Melanie, husband Tim and one of their daughters travelled to a campsite near St Martin near Looe for a holiday. They arrived at the site and started making their caravan ready. Mr Johnson told the inquest that Melanie collapsed on the floor at about 3pm and was helped onto the settee by her daughter. He said that she had tried to self detox the week before and had not been eating well.

By 8pm she felt sick. An hour later she did not feel much better and struggled to the go to the loo. It was then that supported by her husband and daughter that she had what appeared to be some sort of seizure. Mr Johnson managed to lower her onto the floor and they called 999 and sourced a defibrillator from the campsite's warden's office. CPR was started and paramedics also arrived on scene and took over from Mr Johnson.

Sadly, she could not be resuscitated and Melanie was pronounced deceased at the scene. Mr Johnson said: "She had been trying to detox before we went on holiday because she knew she wouldn't have got alcohol on holiday. I think that she had been feeling weak from that and was not eating and collapsed."

Dr Adewunmi Oriolowo, consultant pathologist at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, who carried out the post-mortem examination on Melanie, said there was no trace of alcohol in her blood and no sign of external or internal damage. He said that his first assessment had been to conclude in an unascertained cause of death. However he told the inquest that in view of Melanie's alcohol dependency and history of self detoxing, it was more likely than not that her body had gone into systemic collapse from alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Concluding in a death from natural causes, senior coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Andrew Cox said: "Melanie had a long history of alcoholism and went through repeated episodes of detoxifying at home without any medical support. She was known to have suffered seizures.

"In the days leading to a holiday in Cornwall she started to detox and had not been eating properly or at all. She collapsed that afternoon and felt sick that evening. She suffered a systemic collapse and could not be resuscitated. The medical cause of death was alcohol withdrawal syndrome."