Vicky Walton inquest: cause of injuries that contributed to death are unexplained
Coroner said assault injuries had contributed to death of Queen's Crescent mum
03 August, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Vicky Walton was kind and caring, the inquest heard
QUESTIONS remain over the tragic death of Vicky Walton, a mother-of-three who was found at a flat in Queen’s Crescent last summer with injuries caused by a serious assault.
At an inquest into her death at St Pancras Coroner’s Court yesterday (Wednesday), coroner Mary Hassell said the 33-year-old died of natural causes because of long-term ill health – but added that injuries caused by her being beaten up had contributed to her death.
No one has been charged with assault and mystery remains over who was responsible for the injuries to the former Haverstock School pupil.
Ms Hassell said: “Chronic use of heroin and cocaine means Vicky died of natural causes that were in part drug-related, while contributing factors were head and spleen injuries.
“The causes of those are unclear. The most truthful thing for me to say is I do not know, so it will be recorded in that way.”
Addressing Ms Walton’s family, who were in court, she added: “It must be horrible to feel that you have not got to the bottom of her injuries.” Last summer, police launched a murder investigation after Ms Walton died in the early hours of June 30 at the Royal Free Hospital.
Officers swamped the area searching for clues and two people were arrested and interviewed under caution. They were both later released without charge. The investigation was sparked when a doctor at the hospital noted Ms Walton had severe bruising around her body, face and neck – and suspected she had been the victim of a serious assault.
The inquest heard Miss Walton was using around £200 worth of crack cocaine and heroin every day and had a history of shoplifting and burglary to pay for the habit.
However, she had made efforts to recover, but struggled to keep to treatment programmes. The coroner was told that Ms Walton was kind and caring, and was greatly loved by friends and family.
Friend Anne-Marie McCorry saw her in the days before she died. She told the inquest: “I would describe Vicky as a carer for me. We were very close. I had had a hip replacement and Vicky had been caring, cooking and cleaning for me.”
She added that the weekend before Ms Walton died she had been “very unwell”.
She said: “She hadn’t slept for four nights. She had a high temperature. She had various injuries from a fight and a fall. I don’t know who it was with, but it looked like she had lost.”
Barry Clark, who called an ambulance to take Miss Walton to hospital from his Malden Road home when she stopped breathing, told the inquest they had known each other for six years. She had helped him with housework.
“I used to pay her – and what she did with her wages was her problem,” he said.
“She had come to my house after she got bashed up by some lady. She had been battered.
She was crying and her nose was bleeding so I invited her in and looked after her.”
He described how they had eaten together and then got into bed to watch TV. He had fallen asleep and when he woke up, Miss Walton was not breathing.
Homicide officer Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes told the inquest: “Concerns were raised about the extent of her injuries. She was also found naked. Clark was interviewed and replied no comment to every question.”
He added that Mr Clark also said she had been assaulted by a friend. DCI Holmes added: “She was interviewed under caution and said no comment, but provided two statements acknowledging she knew Vicky and would go shoplifting with her, but denied causing her injuries.”
DCI Holmes added that he had spoken to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if they would consider a case based on gross negligence or man- slaughter, but was told it did not meet the threshold for successful prosecution.
The coroner highlighted inconsistencies in Mr Clark’s evidence, including citing different days of the week when she had arrived at his home. He had given different times regarding when he realised she was so unwell that he had called an ambulance.