Laura McCluskie inquest: Yorkshire mum's family left with questions after boyfriend is cleared of involvement in her death

A Doncaster family have been left with their questions unanswered after a ‘bubbly and outgoing’ mother of two’s boyfriend was found to be not criminally responsible for her death from an overdose.

An inquest at Doncaster Coroner’s Court on Monday heard that Laura Kaye McCluskie, 44, died after taking a fatal dose of her prescription painkillers on January 16, 2021.

She was found at the Cantley home of her partner of over three years, Nigel Carr, and though he was arrested at the scene after police deemed the circumstances to be suspicious, he was ultimately released without charge after detectives decided he bore no legal responsibility for her death.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The inquest was told that Miss McCluskie’s children Aaron and Chloe, who are in their 20s, and other relatives feared that Mr Carr had forced Miss McCluskie to take the tablets and queried why there was a delay in him calling 999 when he found the care assistant unconscious in bed.

Laura McCluskie was 44 when she diedLaura McCluskie was 44 when she died
Laura McCluskie was 44 when she died

A postmortem found some internal and external bruising to Miss McCluskie’s body, but the pathologist was satisfied that she had not been assaulted and found no defensive injuries to her face that would have suggested being forced to swallow.

Mr Carr gave evidence to the inquest and when asked why he had filmed Miss McCluskie on his phone after she had told him she had taken an overdose, said he wanted to show her how she had behaved the next day.

It was accepted by all family members that Miss McCluskie suffered from ‘low mood’ and was taking antidepressants, and had been prescribed medication for chronic back pain. She had no history of drug or alcohol abuse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Her daughter Chloe, who was pregnant with her second child at the time of her mother’s death, described Miss McCluskie as ‘bubbly, outgoing and energetic’ and said she was an ‘open book’ who always confided in her.

On the Wednesday before she died, Miss McCluskie told Chloe that she was ending her relationship with Mr Carr – whom Chloe had witnessed ‘talking down’ to her and ‘making her feel like she was nothing’. She told Chloe that she would return to the family home in Armthorpe and had packed her belongings, but sounded ‘content’ with her decision, was looking forward to moving on and Chloe had no concerns for her welfare. She later told Chloe she had agreed to delay moving out of Mr Carr’s house.

That Saturday, Chloe and her brother Aaron heard nothing from their mother until they received a call from Mr Carr telling them to come to his home urgently.

Chloe added that her mother had never threatened suicide to her, and though she had money worries was looking forward to her grandchild’s arrival. Neither Chloe nor Aaron had ever witnessed any physical violence between the couple.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Giving evidence himself, Mr Carr described their relationship as a ‘rollercoaster’ but that they ‘had a ball’ and ‘did everything together’. He admitted that he would sometimes speak forcefully to her, but said that this was to ‘encourage her’ when her confidence and motivation were low, such as when she was not working. He claimed she had threatened suicide ‘two or three times’ during their relationship. On the night before she was found dead, he said they had argued about money and ‘trust issues’ but said he had accepted the end of their relationship.

During the row, Mr Carr was unsure whether she had taken the tablets. In the video, she is seen in the garden and she then went up to bed alone. Mr Carr remained downstairs and received a text message from her phone at 10.17pm which asked him to tell her children that she was sorry. When asked why he was not concerned, Mr Carr said he read the message but did not ‘comprehend’ its content.

He checked on her at 7am the next day and believed he heard her snoring, and did not go up to the bedroom again until around 4pm, when he realised she was unresponsive.

Mr Carr told the hearing that he had not coerced or persuaded his partner to take the medication and that he did not have access to her mobile phone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The pathologist who conducted the postmortem said it was not possible to conclusively say what time she had died and that there were no signs she had been involved in a struggle.

PC Zoe Barker, one of the investigating police officers, said that though neighbours of Mr Carr were questioned about the couple and said they found him ‘dismissive’ but Miss McCluskie ‘lovely and chatty’, they had never witnessed any domestic disputes and police had never been called to the property before.

Police were unable to access Miss McCluskie’s mobile phone, and the video was found during a search of Mr Carr’s handset. Their inquiry eventually concluded that Mr Carr was not criminally responsible and that he was also under no legal duty of care, meaning he was not obliged to call 999 immediately.

Recording a narrative conclusion, area coroner Louise Slater said there was not enough evidence to deem the death suicide or misadventure.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The text message could have been a cry for medical attention and there is no positive evidence that she intended to take her life. The events of that night are only known to two people, and Laura is not here to give her version. I am not able to determine the full circumstances and we cannot guess or speculate.

"There is insufficient evidence and I am satisfied that there are no other enquiries that need to be undertaken.”