Date: 5 Aug 1947
Leone Maxine Russell-Andrews died from an overdose of barbiturics on 5 August 1947 following a five-day coma.
She was an ex-WAAF officer.
Her inquest concluded that she died from cardiac failure and broncho-pneumonia following barbituric poisoning as a result of an overdose of medinal. She had been taking medinal tablets to relieve pain from a spinal complaint that she had suffered from.
It was heard that she had been afraid to leave the house because she had feared a woman that she had seen in the neighbourhood who was blackmailing her. However, a nurse that had nursed Leone Russell-Andrews through her illness said that she thought that Leone Russell-Andrews would have been the last person to have been afraid of any blackmail, saying 'I think that if she mentioned such a thing she was probably joking'.
The nurse added, 'Can you imagine a woman who would risk her life in the pursuance of a whim to obtain a German clock from a blazing plane, being afraid of anyone?'. It was said that that had been one of the many adventurous incidents in the career of a woman who had tasted life to the full and who had confided some of her past to the nurse.
When the doctor was asked whether medinal tablets would have given a person a certain amount of relief if a person was nervous and perhaps suffering from blackmail or something, the pathologist said 'Yes'.
Her inquest heard that there was not sufficient evidence to show how the medinal had come to be administered and the coroner said that there was no evidence to show that an excessive number of tablets had been administered by anyone other than Leone Russell-Andrews herself.
Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor said that he had prescribed her no drugs other than medinal tablets and that he was unaware that she was taking more than two tablets each night and added that he would not have countenanced her taking treatment from any other doctor. He noted that he did not remember another doctor that Leone Russell-Andrews had been close to having told him that she had bought 100 tablets from the chemist. The doctor said that he had provided Leone Russell-Andrews with about 224 tablets through out the year.
However, a chemist's assistant said that Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor friend had presented a prescription at his shop for medinal tablets, noting that he usually collected 50 at a time. He said that the prescription had been initiated by Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor. He added that he recalled on one or two occasions that he had given Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor friend 100 tablets at a time, noting that he had not entered the additional tablets in the register as he should have done because the shop was very busy.
The pathologist said that Leone Russell-Andrews had taken a very large dose of barbitone, estimating at least 100 grains or probably more. He said that an average dose of medinal was five to ten grains and said that he could not conceive that a woman taking 100 grains would not have known that she was taking a fatal dose.
However, the inquest concluded that there was insufficient evidence to indicate how the poison had been administered and an open verdict was returned.
The coroner said, 'It is clear that the poisoning was the result of an overdose of the tablets, and you must accordingly consider how that excess number came to be administered'. When the coroner broached the question of the tablets being obtained by Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor friend from the local chemist, apart from prescriptions for the drug from her own doctor, he remarked that it was apparent that certain quantities of medinal had been prescribed by Leone Russell-Andrews's own doctor but that in addition, Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor friend had apparently taken it upon himself, to save the other doctor trouble, to obtain extra supplies. He then said, 'There is no evidence to show that the woman administered the tablets herself. You may think that the conduct of Leone Russell-Andrews's doctor friend in obtaining extra supplies in irregular fashion was regrettable, and the same remark applies to the chemist, who seems to have sold them without a prescription given by a qualified medical man'.
It was noted that Leone Russell-Andrews and her doctor friend were on most affectionate terms and that they had 'lived for one another'.
see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Saturday 06 September 1947
see Gloucestershire Echo - Saturday 06 September 1947
see Hull Daily Mail - Friday 05 September 1947
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 20 August 1947
see Lincolnshire Standard and Boston Guardian - Saturday 13 September 1947