Sussex shed fire woman took drug to dull fire effects

A woman whose badly burned body was found in a garden shed took methadone to dull the effects of committing suicide in the fire, an inquest heard.

Sharon Harris, 38, was found dead in the grounds of her home in Percival Road, Eastbourne, on 1 March 2010.

Eastbourne Magistrates' Court was told Ms Harris, who worked in a pharmacy, had recently agreed to end a 12-year relationship with her boyfriend.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of suicide.

It is believed she took the methadone from the pharmacy where she worked.

'Not drug user'

Sussex Police said a suicide note "tailed off" at the end suggesting she wrote it under the influence of the heroin substitute.

Mr Craze said: "I'm quite satisfied that she wasn't a drug user.

"I can't think of any other reason to take a bottle of methadone than for her to blunt the effect of a fatal fire or any other means of suicide and that, for me, is compelling evidence that she had contemplated, if not planned, suicide on the day it occurred."

Crews from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service were called to Ms Harris' home after a neighbour spotted smoke billowing from the shed on 1 March.

Her body was identified by dental records and a post-mortem examination found she died from smoke inhalation.

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