Housewife died after eating poisonous soup

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A housewife died after eating one of the world’s most deadly mushrooms – which she had picked in her garden and cooked for soup, an inquest heard.

Christina Hale, 57, did not realise she had gathered poisonous death cap mushrooms and used them for the meal for her and her husband.

Mrs Hale, who found the mushrooms in the couple’s large garden in Bridgwater, Somerset, ate a large quantity of the soup for her evening meal, while Jocelyn Lynch, 49, had a smaller amount as he also ate stew for dinner, West Somerset Coroner’s Court heard.

The couple began to feel unwell the following morning and their condition deteriorated, with both rushed to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton two days later.

Mrs Hale suffered multiple organ failure and died the following day in intensive care surrounded by her family.

Mr Lynch, who had been married to Mrs Hale for 13 years, recovered from his ordeal.

The inquest in Taunton heard that consuming just half a death cap mushroom can be fatal and there is no antidote.

Mr Lynch told the court his wife picked the mushrooms while he was at work in Weston-super-Mare and did not know how many had been cooked in the soup.

The property developer said: “We had picked mushrooms for mushroom soup before. She hadn’t done it on her own before.

“My wife prepared the soup while I was at work. Normally it was added to a can of Campbell’s condensed soup.

“I had a bowl of mushroom soup that she gave me. She made the soup her main meal. All I know is I had one bowlful, I don’t know how much the wife had.”

Mr Lynch said the couple felt unwell by the morning after eating the soup on November 15 last year. He went to work but had to return home, where he found his wife also suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea. They spent much of the night in separate bathrooms and the following morning November 17, a Saturday, Mrs Hale called an out-of-hours service.

The inquest heard Mrs Hale told the operator she had “eaten some dodgy mushrooms” and a doctor arrived at midday to examine her.

Mr Lynch said: “The doctor felt it was norovirus. She thought the mushroom soup was incidental.”

Mrs Hale was given an injection to stop her from vomiting and capsules to stop diarrhoea.

She seemed to “pluck up” and remained in the lounge to sleep that night, Mr Lynch said. But he was woken up by shouting from downstairs just before midnight and found his wife being treated by a doctor and a team of paramedics.

Mrs Hale, who had called the doctor herself, was rushed to the accident and emergency department at Musgrove Park Hospital by ambulance.

Her husband attempted to drive to the hospital after her but felt too unwell and had to be taken there, where he was admitted.

Dr Helene Lindsay, a consultant in intensive care and anaesthetics, told the court Mrs Hale suffered a number of cardiac arrests.

Her heart, which had been poisoned, stopped at least four times and the deadly toxins also struck her kidney and liver.

Doctors consulted experts at the National Poison Centre in Cardiff, who identified the mushrooms by photographs sent by email.

Dr Lindsay told the court that even if Mrs Hale had been admitted to hospital earlier, she probably would still have died.

She said: “With a death cap mushroom just half a mushroom is enough to kill someone.”

West Somerset Coroner’s Court Michael Rose recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.