A middle-class mother died from alcohol poisoning after drinking wine all day while on a holiday to celebrate a break in her breast cancer treatment.
Therapist Valerie Jones, 54, was taken to the Greek island of Santorini by her company director husband Nigel as a treat to recuperate from her illness.
An inquest heard that on the second day of the holiday, Mrs Jones had been drinking wine during a morning sightseeing trip, at lunch and again over an evening meal.
She then had a nightcap with her husband before joining a wedding party at their hotel. Mr Jones, the director of a chartered surveyors in Yeovil, Somerset, went to bed and told his wife to enjoy herself at the party, where she had made new friends.
He woke later that night to be told she had collapsed in the toilets shortly before 2am. She was found to be unresponsive and died on arrival at Santorini General Hospital.
Bournemouth Coroner’s Court was told that Mrs Jones was nearly four-and-a-half times the drink-drive limit, which in the UK is 80mg alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Such levels are enough to cause sudden death from acute alcohol toxicity, the inquest heard last week. It is not known how many glasses of wine Mrs Jones had drunk, and the inquest was told she did not have a drinking problem.
Mrs Jones, who lived in a £1.3million home in Cattistock, Dorset, shared a love of horses with her 19-year-old daughter Immie, a talented dressage rider.
As well as being a company director, Mr Jones was a governor at the £22,000-a-year Sherborne Preparatory School.
Pathologist Dr Kudair Hussein told the inquest: ‘When blood alcohol levels go above 350mg per 100ml, it is not unknown that people can die suddenly.
‘My report showed Mrs Jones had 358mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. On the balance of probability, you can conclude this was the cause of her death.’
Mr Jones, 52, told the hearing: ‘We had some wine taking in the sights, as one does on holiday.
‘We then had some wine with lunch and again later on with our evening meal. We then decided to head back to the hotel and had a nightcap.’
Mrs Jones, described at the inquest as ‘bubbly, social and caring’, had become friendly with a group attending the wedding party and was invited to join them for drinks around midnight. Mr Jones was tired and went to bed. A few hours later he awoke to find his wife had not returned.
An initial post-mortem in Greece concluded her death on September 27 last year was caused by pulmonary oedema, a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
But a post-mortem in Britain found there was little evidence of this and that Mrs Jones’s death was alcohol-related.
Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin ruled Mrs Jones’s death was due to acute alcohol toxicity.
In his evidence, Mr Jones said: ‘Valerie was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2016 and as part of her treatment she underwent radiotherapy and surgery at Poole hospital.
‘After this we decided to take in a holiday to Santorini in September 2016 to help her in her recovery. She did drink, as many of us do, and had a level of tolerance to alcohol.’
Yesterday Dr Sarah Jarvis, clinical director of patient.co.uk, said the case highlighted the dangers of drinking throughout the day, especially for women.
Because they are generally smaller than men, with lower levels of water in the body, they ‘are more likely to die’ from alcohol poisoning, she added.