UK inquest into 11-year-old girl's mystery death adjourned for more evidence

A coroner has adjourned an inquest to gather more evidence after he said he could not decide what led to the unexpected death of an 11-year-old girl.

Police investigated after Georgia Newnham was found dead in her bed clutching a can of Sure deodorant just before 8am on May 15 at her home in Peacehaven, East Sussex.

Officers said the circumstances were unexplained but not suspicious.

A post-mortem found the schoolgirl died as a result of cardiac arrhythmia and had inhaled aerosol deodorant, an inquest heard today.

Coroner Alan Craze said he was considering an open conclusion because he could not be sure of the circumstances leading to her death.

He said he did not know if the death was an accident after using deodorant as normal, or due to solvent abuse.

Georgia had been using aerosol deodorant for around two years because she did not like using a roll-on. She would often sweat in the night and was self-conscious about body odour, the inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall heard.

The day before her death she had been shopping with her foster mother Casandra Copping who bought her a Sure deodorant because her usual Nivea brand had sold out.

She normally kept the aerosol in a wash bag in her bedroom and would put it on once a day before she went to school, Mrs Copping told the inquest.

She added: "She never, ever put her deodorant on under her duvet."

She said Georgia was "100% not abusing solvents".

Teacher Jane McCaughan, the head of Year 7 at Peacehaven Community School that Georgia attended, described her as a "lovely little thing" who was a "real character".

She said: "There was absolutely no question she was having problems. She always presented herself beautifully. [Her personal hygiene] was not of concern and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind she was well-cared for."

She said while some students at the school may have difficulties with substance misuse, solvents or "glue sniffing" were not the item of choice and she said there was never any suggestion Georgia had tried this.

Detective Inspector Vivienne Johnson, of Sussex Police's safeguarding investigations unit, said Georgia was described to police as a child who was fit and well, did not take medication and had not been to hospital in the eight years she had been with her foster family.

She said the family told her she liked to sleep and would often wrap herself up tightly in her duvet, adding: "There was no sign of a struggle or a forced entry to the room. [I found this was an] unexpected death with no third-party involvement."

Mr Craze said: "Frankly, I cannot make my mind up. This is very rare for me. I need to give some thought in what seems quite a difficult inquest.

"Did she use this deodorant in order to achieve some sensation or high? Or did she use the deodorant for normal purposes in a confined space?"

When Mr Craze suggested he might give an open conclusion, barristers representing Mrs Copping and her biological mother Joanne Lewendon asked if he would adjourn the proceedings so medical experts could be asked more questions on the findings of her toxicology report.

The inquest will resume on a date yet to be fixed, most likely in the new year.



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