Woman's death injuries led to three-day police probe

PUBLISHED: 16:52 30 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 06 May 2010

Police outside the Upton Road house at the time of the death

Police outside the Upton Road house at the time of the death

A WOMAN who died from complications relating to alcohol abuse sparked a police investigation because she had a number of external injuries. Sally Hennessy s body was discovered on April 22 in her flat in Upton Road, St Albans, and police and forensic team

A WOMAN who died from complications relating to alcohol abuse sparked a police investigation because she had a number of external injuries.

Sally Hennessy's body was discovered on April 22 in her flat in Upton Road, St Albans, and police and forensic teams spent three days on the scene.

But a subsequent post-mortem revealed that the 44-year-old died from natural causes and suspicious circumstances were ruled out.

An inquest into Ms Hennessy's death held yesterday (Wednesday) revealed that she had diabetes, a fatty liver and chronic pancreatitis which arose from her dependency on alcohol.

She had bruising to her face at the time of death but it was not a contributing factor to her death.

She was last seen alive on Sunday, April 20, and had a black eye when she visited a nearby convenience store which she told staff was the result of a fall.

A neighbour raised concerns the following Tuesday because he had not seen her for two days and police arrived after a manager of the housing association which owned her flat couldn't open the door as it was double locked from the inside.

Pc Paul Ricket said that he had arrived at the scene to find half of Ms Hennessy's body slumped on the bed and smeared blood in the toilet which indicated that she may have died trying to get back into bed after waking up during the night.

Some 37 vodka bottles were found in her flat, some of which were still full, but she did not have a high level of alcohol in her blood at the time of death.

Ms Hennessy was a patient of Dr Stephen Gerber, a psychiatrist from the St Albans Community Mental Health Team, who said she was an isolated character who had struggled with drinking problems for a number of years.

He put that down to emotional problems she had battled with since she was a teenager which included a number of failed relationships.

Dr Gerber said her condition deteriorated last year when she was admitted to hospital and began having severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms including tremors and hallucinations.

He said: "It seemed to make her even more insular and frightened of the world and she started drinking even more than before."

Herts coroner Edward Thomas recorded death by natural causes.

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