Mum's tragic late-night dip

An alcoholic mum-of-three drowned when she went for a late-night swim in a lake after consuming a cocktail of drink and drugs, an inquest heard.

The body of Susan Powell, who lived at Station Road, Brimington, was found in the water at Poolsbrook Country Park on the morning of September 15, 2007, following a joint police and fire service search.

An inquest into the 50-year-old's death, held at Chesterfield Magistrates' Court, heard that Ms Powell — an alcoholic for many years — had begun drinking again after being discharged from a detox clinic.

She was also taking medication for depression, neuralgia and other physical ailments.

Det Con Lynn Abdy told the court that on September 14, 2007, Ms Powell told her husband Paul Houghton that she wished to go to Hemsworth Water Park — somewhere she had formerly said would be a nice place to die.

Det Con Abdy added: "He considered she had feelings of suicide and tried to dissuade her from going to Hemsworth and they agreed on Poolsbrook Country Park."

The couple drove to the Staveley beauty spot and though Mr Houghton attempted to distract his wife from going into the water, she entered the lake — removing clothing to reveal a swimming costume — and began to swim.

Det Con Abdy continued: "It was dark and she went out of his sight. That was the last Mr Houghton saw of Susan."

The pathologist's report concluded Ms Powell drowned while she was intoxicated by alcohol. She had three times the legal limit for driving in her system plus a number of drugs including diazepam, which can cause cardio-respiratory problems and loss of inhibition.

DC Abdy said Susan had sent text messages to friends and family during the afternoon of September 14, adding: "In retrospect they could be seen as notes suggesting she was going to take her own life. But it had become common practice for Susan to send such messages."

Coroner Tom Kelly recorded a verdict of death by drowning.

He said: "Before I could give a verdict of suicide I have to be confident Susan intended to take her own life and I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt."