A much-loved mother, daughter and sister died after taking an excess of drugs despite her best efforts to rid herself of addiction.

Catherine Howson, known to her family as Cat, had been using illegal drugs for a number of years, before she died on September 20, 2023, while staying in temporary accommodation at Shadsworth homeless pods in Blackburn.

An inquest in Blackburn heard that Miss Howson’s mother, Lesley Howson, said her daughter was a “unique force of nature and it was a pleasure to be her mum”.

Coroner Janine Wolstenholme told the hearing that the 39-year-old mother of three had had a normal upbringing but during her teenage years, became, “a difficult child to manage”, and began using cannabis.

It was heard that she went on to work in bars in East Lancashire, and eventually had three children, but during her relationship with the father of two of her kids, it became apparent that she had started taking more drugs.

She then met her third partner, a man named Glen, and it was during this time she began taking heroin.

Ms Wolstenholme said: “Contact with her mum became more sporadic and she didn’t hear from Cat for the next three years or so.

“Her family are still reeling following her death and at her funeral they said she looked beautiful, and they were overwhelmed at how many people were there.

“Her children are still struggling with her death, as is her mother, who said in her statement, ‘I don’t think I have come to terms with her death yet. She was a unique force of nature, and it was a pleasure to be her mum’.”

Ms Wolstenholme told the inquest that Miss Howson’s partner Glen had died two years ago and, after falling into an abusive relationship following Glen’s death, she had been staying at the homeless pods in Shadsworth.

On the night of September 19 Miss Howson had left the pods to go and pick up some drugs, returning less than an hour later.

Security staff working at the site provided witness statements to say they had seen Miss Howson and spoke with her that evening and she seemed in good spirits, and they had no concerns.

However, when her support worker attended the following morning, Miss Howson was found dead in her bed.

The inquest was told that Miss Howson had been engaging with drug service Inspire, and had been seen by staff there regularly between 2020 and 2023 and was getting support.

Ms Wolstenholme went on: “Her goal was to become stable on an opiate substitute and stop using heroin and crack cocaine.”

However, in a statement from one of Ms Howson’s support workers, it became clear that the mum-of-three had started taking the drug spice a few weeks before her death, but was trying to come off it as it was making her sick and she was, “missing her children and was still grieving for Glen”.

Police were called to Shadsworth pods on September 20 after Miss Howson was found, and were satisfied that there was no third party involvement in her death.

Toxicology found the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in her system, which would be consistent with Miss Howson having taken spice, and there was also methadone detected, which she had been prescribed as an opiate substitute.

A medical cause of death was offered as multi-drug toxicity with Ms Wolstenholme recording a drug related death conclusion.

She said: “Catherine Elizabeth Howson died of drug toxicity on September 20, 2023, at Shadsworth Village, Blackburn, and I record a drug related death conclusion.”

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Howson said her daughter was “much-loved”, and added: “There’s no words…I haven’t come to terms with it yet. I haven’t accepted that she’s no longer here.”