Lady Kathryn Vestey had a cocktail of prescribed drugs in her system which could have contributed to her death, an inquest heard today. The first wife of muilti-millionaire Lord Samuel Vestey had antidepressants, sleeping pills and powerful painkillers in her system when she died in her sleep in Burford in the Cotswold hills. A live-in carer found the 73-year-old dead three days before her birthday on December 13, 2017. Toxicology reports showed the drugs the pensioner had taken a combination of drugs for around more than decade ‘potentially contributed to her death’ the coroner heard. The inquest was told her death was caused by a hardening of her heart valves. Lady Kathryn (pictured on her wedding day) died at her home in Burford last December. She divorced Lord Samuel Vestey in 1981 after 11 years of marriage The senior coroner for Oxfordshire Darren Salter, said: ‘The cause of death was initially unknown. ‘The key issue was the cause of death, be it natural causes or due to prescribed drugs.’ Medical records showed that Lady Vestey was prescribed opiate painkiller codeine to manage pain in her left hip, which was afflicted with arthritis. She also took liquid morphine to manage the pain, with the last batch prescribed just before her death. Surgery had been explored as an option to treat the condition, but due to a prior stroke it had not been undertaken.
Lady Vestey was formerly married to Lord Vestey, who served the Queen as Master of the Horse but they split after 11 years in 1981. Lord Vestey was the former Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse and has regularly been seen with the Queen at equestrian events. He has an estimated wealth of £750 million thanks to his meat business, the Vestey Food Group. The pair had two children together, the Honourable Saffron Idiens and the Honourable Flora Hall. Following an extensive toxicology report, it was found that Lady Vestey also had antidepressants in her body at the time of her death. Proceedings heard she had battled depression and anxiety during her life. She was last seen by her carer, Linda Huart at around 10.30pm on December 12, before the same carer found her dead. The analysis of the chemicals in her body showed that Lady Vestey had the painkillers codeine, morphine, sleeping pills zopiclone, and antidepressants venlafaxine and mirtazipine in her system at the time of her death. Dr Nicholas Hunt, who carried out the post mortem examinations, said: ‘There were many findings, including relatively high levels of anti depressants (Venlafaxine and mirtazipine). ‘But these were below the levels usually associated with fatalities. ‘In this case the toxicology report was complex, with a number of agents which could have increased Lady Vestey’s risk of respiratory depression. ‘In my opinion it should be considered as potentially contributing to her death.’ Lady Vestey also suffered from insomnia, for which she was prescribed zopiclone.
A statement from Ms Hall was read to proceedings, explaining that there had been attempts to reduce the medication the life-long house wife had been taking. Lord and Lady Vestey had two children together. Lady Kathryn was found dead in December last year She said: ‘Five or six weeks before her death, there were issues with her medication. ‘Appointments were made to review them, and consequently there was a reduction of medication. ‘The last time I saw my mother was two weeks before she died. ‘She was in bed but definitely more alert than she had been previously.’ Ms Huart said: ‘I had concerns about the medication. ‘I called the GP surgery and it was apparent she had been on the same medication for about 10 years. ‘She had been prescribed by a mixture of private and NHS doctors.’ Mr Salter recorded a conclusion that Lady Vestey died of natural causes. The medical cause of death was idiopathic myocardial fibrosis, or hardening of the heart valves, and the medication was given as a contributing factor.
Mr Salter said: ‘I offer my condolences to the family in this case. ‘She died of idiopathic myocardial fibrosis, but the drugs potentially could have contributed to her death. ‘The dosages of some of the drugs were high, but this could have been due to chronic therapeutic use. ‘There is no suggestion of overdose.’