Coroner voices his ‘suspicions’ over teen’s drugs death

SADLY MISSED: Elizabeth Freeston
SADLY MISSED: Elizabeth Freeston

A coroner has said there “remains immense suspicions” over how a Burnley teenager met her death from drugs.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor was speaking as he gave a conclusion of a drugs-related death at the second inquest of Elizabeth Freeston (19).

The teen known as Lizzy, who suffered from a mild form of autism, was found dead in bed by her boyfriend, heroin addict Michael Grundy, at their home in Francis Street on December 12th, 2012.

A post-mortem examination found that Miss Freeston had died from the combined toxic effects of heroin, diazepam and the anti-depressant fluoxetine.

The teenager’s adopted mother Mrs Sarah Freeston said that Lizzy never used drugs and drank very rarely.

She added that her daughter was “petrified of needles”.

Mr Taylor had adjourned the first full inquest in April and passed submissions on to the Crown Prosecution Service to further investigate the death.

The CPS then asked the police to conduct further inquiries but later decided not to prosecute Mr Grundy citing a lack of evidence and unreliable witnesses.

Miss Freeston’s family requested a criminal investigation following the first inquest in which a mutual friend of Mr Grundy and Lizzy, Stacey Spencer, had alleged that Mr Grundy had complained to her that Lizzy had been “nagging” him.

She added: “He told me he was going to ‘shove her a couple of tablets’ to calm her down.”

She also claimed to have had a conversation with a man known as “Kez” who had repeated the allegation.

Police investigations later discovered this man was Keiran Oddy, an alcoholic and drug-user.

DC John Doddrell, of Burnley CID, said investigations of Miss Spencer’s mobile phone found that she was a drug user and was in regular contact with Michael Grundy, who was also a drug user.

She was said to suffer from depression and was described as an unreliable witness by the CPS, the officer revealed.

DC Doddrell had also interviewed Kieran Oddy who repeated the allegation that Grundy had told him he had given Lizzy valium and “a dig” which he knew to be an injection.

DC Doddrell added: “Mr Oddy later went back on his statement and said he had only heard the allegations through word of mouth.

“He was not the most reliable of witnesses.”

In recording a conclusion of a drug-related death, Mr Taylor praised Elizabeth’s family for their attempt to find justice.

He said: “We all have immense suspicions about how Lizzy met her death.

“The difficulty we have is that because of the personalities involved we are never going to hear the truth.

“Michael Grundy has always denied giving her anything and that she may have tried and failed to inject herself, and then smoked the drug.

“We also have no evidence from the pathologist of ‘defence injuries’ on Lizzy’s body.

“The witnesses sadly, because of their own problems, would never be considered the most reliable.

“I applaud the family for all their hard work in trying to find some justice.”