Woman dies of acute alcohol toxicity after going on a 'pub crawl' on first day of vacation with husband

Paula Bishop was known to be hard-working senior assistant technical officer with the pharmacy at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary


                            Woman dies of acute alcohol toxicity after going on a 'pub crawl' on first day of vacation with husband
(Getty Images)

An inquest into the death of a 37-year-old pharmacy worker has found that she died after accidentally drinking too much wine and beer on the first day of her holiday. Paula Bishop consumed what has been called a "fatally toxic" amount of alcohol. Her husband has said that it did not seem like his wife had been drunk or unsteady on her feet at the time.

The Bishops, Stuart and Paula, from Manchester were on their first day of holiday in the Canary Islands in October 2017 when Paula died, The Daily Mail reported. The couple had gone on a pub crawl in Fuerteventua so that they could get a feel of the area.

The inquest into Paula's death, that took place at the Bolton Coroners Court in UK, heard that the pharmacy worker may have not judged the amount of alcohol she was consuming correctly. It was claimed that Paula consumed a few small beers, two glasses of wine and four Irish coffees before she died. This comes up to about 15 units of alcohol. 

Stuart Bishop, Paula's husband of 11 years, said he did not remember seeing his wife being extremely drunk or even unsteady on her feet when she stood. A coroner ruled at the inquest that Paula had been a victim of an alcohol-related death but also mentioned that she and Stuart did not appreciate how much alcohol they had consumed over the course of the day.

The hearing at the Bolton court was told that Paula was a hard-working senior assistant technical officer with the pharmacy department at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan. The jury was also told that she and Stuart had "lived for their holidays". The couple had gone on a trip to Cuba with their friends and, just a month after returning from that trip, on October 20, they travelled to Spain.

Paula was said to be "entirely well" as their son, Josh, had dropped the couple off at the airport early in the morning. The couple landed at 11:15 am and then checked into the Aparthotel Caleta Gardens after which they went to the hotel bar.

Stuart Bishop said in a statement: "For the remainder of the day, afternoon and evening, she was fine, she had a sleep in the afternoon, had something to eat at tea time and was sending pictures to family on her phone and was in touch with loved ones. This was a perfect start to what we anticipated would be perfect holiday. She had a few small beers, two small glasses of wine, and three or four Irish coffees — between 10 to 15 units."

"We went to bed between 10 and 11 and crashed out. I was tired and hadn't had a sleep in the day time. My last memory of Paula was going back to the room — nothing out of the ordinary."

"She had poured a couple of glasses of orange juice which is something she would usually do if she was preparing to go to bed. But I woke up sometime after midnight and found Paula lying on the floor propped up against a chest of drawers. I touched her belly and it was cold and then tried to find a pulse. Her legs had changed colour."

"I ran down to the reception area straight away and brought up a night time security who then alerted paramedics. When I first looked at her, I thought straight away that she had passed away and my automatic reaction was to get help. I shook her and tried to speak to her but got nothing. Paramedics attended and tried resuscitation but she could not be saved."

"Her death came as an enormous shock. She was a wonderful person who was full of life and will be greatly missed by her friends and family."

One Spanish toxicologist had said that the tests for Paula shows that she had an alcohol count of four grams per liter of blood in her system. To put this into perspective, this was almost eight times the drink driving limit in Spain. The country will allow drivers take the wheel up to 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Consultant histopathologist at Whiston hospital in Liverpool, Dr Naveen Sharma, said that the levels of alcohol that was found in Paula's system were "fatally toxic". He concluded that her cause of death has been heart failure caused by "acute alcohol toxicity". 

Coroner Tim Brennand, while recording a verdict of alcohol-related death, said: "Death has arisen because of a single acute overdose of alcohol on a single day on holiday rather than over a long period of time. I make clear there is no history of alcohol abuse. Paula travelled to Fuerteventura with her husband and on that day she consumed a large variety of alcohol. She retired to bed and some time after midnight she was discovered collapsed on the apartment floor."

"This was a much anticipated holiday for this very hard-working individual and it was not surprising that she took advantage and enjoyed herself on the first day of her holiday. The real tragedy here is that it may well have been that both, she and perhaps her husband and partner in life, did not appreciate the amount of alcohol taken. This is the tragedy of this particular case."

"Mr Bishop, I cannot bring myself to imagine the enormity of your loss and the shock and panic that you went through. Words cannot do justice."

After the hearing concluded, the Bishop family said in a statement: "The family are grateful that the coroner recognises the tragic circumstances of this case and the fact it was not a problem of drinking. What should have been the first day of a well deserved holiday turned into a nightmare that no one would wish to imagine. Paula was a wonderful person and a loving wife who was full of life."

"We hope that the dangers of drinking abroad, where measures are not as controlled, would be considered by other people to avoid similar tragedies like ours."