Skip to main content

Peaches Geldof was relapsed addict who died of heroin overdose, inquest hears

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2219 GMT (0619 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Puncture marks found on Peaches Geldof's arms and one hand, an inquest hears
  • Geldof had been addicted to heroin for a number of years but tried to give it up
  • She had been on a methadone program, an inquest hears
  • Police found heroin in her home of a much greater purity than average found on the street

London (CNN) -- Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose after relapsing into use of the illegal drug following attempts to give it up, an inquest heard Wednesday.

The death of the 25-year-old TV host in April at her home in Wrotham, Kent, southeast of London, shocked the entertainment world.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham of Kent police told the inquest that Geldof had been addicted to heroin for a number of years but had ceased taking the drug more recently.

Geldof, who had two children younger than 2, had been supported by drug treatment workers for 2½ years, being prescribed methadone, he said. She had said she wanted to come off methadone completely and was following a reduction plan.

A drug test in November indicated that she was not taking any illegal drugs, he said. However, in February, witnesses reported suspicions that she had started using heroin again.

High-grade heroin

Fotheringham's report to the inquest gave new details of Geldof's death.

Police who searched the house where she died found a black cloth bag hidden in a cupboard above the door of a spare bedroom, he said.

Inside was a bag containing what tests proved to be heroin as well as a bag of citric acid, used to make the heroin more soluble in water for injection, according to the report. The bag also held dozens of syringes, some sealed while others contained traces of a brown residue, alcohol wipes, cotton buds and cards advertising a needle exchange in central London.

According to a police drug expert, PC Adrian Parsons, the heroin found was of "importation quality" -- that is, with a purity of 61%, compared with the average 26% purity found at street level.

The 6.91 grams (about a quarter-ounce) recovered would have been worth £350 to £550 (about $600 to $940), Fotheringham said.

READ: How heroin kills you

Burnt spoon, knotted tights

Geldof was discovered sitting slumped on a bed in the spare bedroom by her husband, rock musician Tom Cohen, who went to their home after he became concerned when he couldn't contact her.

The couple's younger son, Phaedra, was in the house at the time, having been dropped off by Cohen's father the previous afternoon. The musician had taken both children to spend the weekend at his parents' home.

A pair of knotted black tights was found under her body, and a burnt spoon containing a small amount of a brown residue in the bowl was found under the bed, Fotheringham said. The tights could have been used as a tourniquet while she was injecting the drug.

An autopsy also found evidence of recent puncture marks on the inside of both elbows and on her left hand.

The inquest heard that tests by a forensic scientist suggested recent use of the drug, resulting in a "high" concentration of heroin in Geldof's body, which was "at the end of the range of values at which fatalities have occurred."

She was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of her death, tests revealed. Nor had she taken a significant amount of any other substances in the hours leading up to her death.

Reduced tolerance?

The scientist's report notes that people using heroin regularly "develop a tolerance to the drug, and such individuals can use doses that would be toxic, or fatal, to people with no tolerance."

But it adds that tolerance "appears to be lost fairly rapidly when users cease to use the drug, and deaths commonly occur in people who have previously been tolerant and have returned to using heroin."

Fotheringham's report concluded, "There is no indication that any other third party was present or involved in her death and there is no indication that Peaches intended to take her own life or harm herself in any way as she was reported to be of happy disposition and planning for the future with friends and family."

Geldof was 11 years old when her mother died of a drug overdose.

Kent police continue to investigate who supplied the heroin to Geldof, but no arrests have been made.

CNN's Carol Jordan contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT