A “beloved daughter and mother”, who was always spoken about with warmth, died in the bath due to medical complications that caused her heart to stop beating.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court heard how Melanie Wykes, from Blackburn, was found unresponsive in the bath by her mother, Wendy, on October 28, 2023.

A medical cause of death was offered as cardiac arrhythmia flowing from metabolic disturbance, uncontrolled diabetes, pancreatitis, alcohol-fatty liver and methadone replacement.

The 45-year-old had been forced to move in with her mother due to her ill health and a dramatic loss of weight, with Wendy providing daily care for her daughter.

The inquest was told that Melanie suffered with type one diabetes which she had not properly controlled, pancreatitis, chronic liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption, and was on a methadone prescription for past heroin abuse. Although she was only taking a very low dose, was under the care of drug service, Spark, and was in the process of trying to come off her prescription.

Melanie also had an irregular heartbeat, which was likely a result of suffering from pancreatitis.

In the months before she died, steps had been put in place to try and access some respite for Wendy, and find Melanie suitable alternative accommodation, as she had become increasingly forgetful, not being able to remember whether she’d taken her methadone; was prone to falls; and would often get lost while out on her mobility scooter.

On the day she died, Melanie, of Wasdale Avenue, Blackburn, had been out shopping on her mobility scooter but had fallen and banged her head as she went to stand up.

An ambulance was called with paramedics assessing Melanie and advising her to go to hospital due to having high blood sugar and a known irregular heartbeat.

However, Melanie, who had experienced long waits in the hospital in recent months which had caused her diabetes to flare up and insulin levels to drop, said she needed to return home so she could take her insulin, and preferred not to go to hospital. She also told paramedics the heart irregularity was normal for her.

Satisfied that her head injury was not serious and that she was aware of how to control her blood sugar levels, the paramedics followed her home and left her in the care of her mother, with no further concerns raised.

Later that night, Melanie went to take a bath as usual, but did not respond in an alert manner when Wendy called up to her, which was sometimes the case, as she would regularly fall asleep sitting up in the bath.

When Wendy called up to Melanie for a second time and received no response at all, she went to check on her daughter, but found her sitting up in her normal position, unresponsive in the tub.

An ambulance was called with paramedics pronouncing Melanie dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination and toxicology showed nothing abnormal or unusual for Melanie, with a specific medical cause of death not recorded at that stage.

A radiologist was then asked to provide a report, which concluded Melanie had a number of medical conditions that were known to give rise to metabolic disturbance and heart arrhythmia, with the cause of death ascertained as an irregular heart pattern which proved fatal.  

Coroner Sian Jones offered a narrative conclusion and said: “Melanie was a beloved daughter, mother and family member, and I note from all of the evidence that people spoke about her with warmth, and that she was a character.

“Melanie was found dead in the bath at Wasdale Avenue, having suffered metabolic disturbance as a result of uncontrolled diabetes, pancreatitis, alcohol fatty liver, and methadone replacement, resulting in cardiac arrhythmia from which resuscitation was not possible.”