Date: Saturday 8th February 2003

A WOMAN who was found dead in her Penrith home had taken an overdose and left a suicide note nearby, an inquest heard.

The body of 31-year-old Lynne Furness was found at the King Street flat by her social worker on 2nd August. A post mortem revealed she had taken a fatal amount of amitriptyline, a drug which had been prescribed by her doctor.

The inquest at Carlisle on Monday was told that Miss Furness had a history of mental problems and previously experienced a series of drugs overdoses and miscarriages. The coroner for North East Cumbria, Ian Morton, recorded a verdict that she had taken her own life while the balance of her mind was disturbed.

Miss Furness was a patient at Penrith’s Beacon Unit. Her mental health social worker, Richard Barnes, said she was adopted, but had a happy childhood until the age of 14.

She then began displaying signs of damaging adolescent behaviour. She was staying out late at night, getting involved with illicit drugs and not paying attention to her adopted parents. In later years she survived a series of overdoses and, said Mr. Barnes, experienced “a string of miscarriages” from various relationships.

He described her as “impulsive”, citing one example of a night that she met a man from France and travelled back to his country with him that same evening, leaving friends and family behind. It was a relationship that lasted only two weeks.


Miss Furness received help with debt problems and was on prescription drugs including amitriptyline for mood swings which included depression and manic tendencies.

On one of Mr. Barnes’s visits to her flat he met her latest boyfriend, a man from Spain with whom she confessed to have fallen in love with. Because of her seemingly impulsive tendencies, Mr. Barnes wrote to Miss Furness’s psychiatrist raising his concerns.

He said at that time he had rarely seen her happier, despite her history which, he added, “would have been enough to cause anybody stress, never mind someone with mental health problems”.

“But of course I didn’t expect such drastic consequences,” said Mr. Barnes.

He had tried to contact Miss Furness but, unlike previous occasions, she had failed to return his call. He had planned to call on her one afternoon but decided to visit earlier in the day to see how she was.

It was then that he found her body and three empty packets of amitriptyline pills. A lengthy note was found nearby which set out her intentions. A post mortem revealed she had taken a fatal overdose of amitriptyline, while traces of other medication were also found. There was also alcohol in her blood which, while not leading to her death, was not entirely unconnected.

PC Ian Turnbull, who was called after Miss Furness’s body was discovered, said efforts to trace the Spanish boyfriend had been unsuccessful.