Southsea mum died after injecting herself with heroin while five months pregnant, Portsmouth inquest hears

Joanne Martin, who died after taking heroin
Joanne Martin, who died after taking heroin
  • Grieving mother blames mental health system for not doing more to support troubled daughter
  • Coroner says Joanne Martin ‘slipped through the net’ after moving back to area
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A MUM-OF-THREE died after injecting herself with heroin while five months pregnant with a baby boy, an inquest heard.

Joanne Martin suffered a cardiac arrest after taking the substance during a drink and drug-fuelled binge with her boyfriend and friends.

The mental health system has let her down, largely because she has had these problems for a long time.

Ambulance crews rushed the 34-year-old from her flat in Waverley Road, Southsea, to Queen Alexandra Hospital, to resuscitate her and deliver the baby, but neither survived.

An inquest in Portsmouth yesterday heard how Miss Martin endured a ‘volatile’ on-off relationship with boyfriend Chris Stratford – and relatives were unaware of her drug use.

A report by Miss Martin’s GP Dr Richard Foord revealed she had been diagnosed with ‘emotionally unstable personality disorder’ and had a ‘long history of substance misuse and self-harm’ stretching back to 1995.

But Miss Martin’s grieving mother Linda Wells, of Fareham, blamed the mental health service for not doing more to support her troubled daughter – who died on August 1 this year.

Speaking to Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner David Horsley, the 63-year-old said: ‘The mental health system has let her down, largely because she has had these problems for a long time.’

Mr Horsley said Miss Martin’s mental health issues contributed to her decline.

He said: ‘Joanne has had an unhappy life. She struggled with a drink problem, which I think is due to her mental health problems that go back a long way, back to when she was a teenager.

‘Because of that, she has been a vulnerable person and taken some hard knocks in life – not least getting into this corrosive relationship with her last partner. It seems having entered that relationship, she got into other things, other than alcohol.’

Miss Martin’s mother Mrs Wells and her stepfather Stuart Wells had full-time care of her children due to her problems.

Mrs Wells said her daughter and Mr Stratford were at one time ‘living in a tent in Fareham’ – and Miss Martin had been studying a mechanics course at Fareham College and been awarded the student of the year award before giving it all up when they met.

Things then got worse and Miss Martin travelled to Stockton-on-Tees to live with her father before the relationship broke down.

She then returned and lived with a friend in Portchester before falling pregnant and moving to Southsea.

Mr Horsley said it was during this period that Miss Martin ‘slipped through the net’ as midwives in Fareham failed to pass her medical records on.

Portsmouth midwives supervisor Debbie Hill said an ‘outside audit’ had been carried out to ensure the same mistake wasn’t repeated.

Delivering a narrative verdict, Mr Horsley said: ‘The conclusion I have to reach is, Joanne’s death is a drugs-related death.’

Paying tribute, stepfather Mr Wells said: ‘She lived the life she wanted – we couldn’t do anything about that. But she left her mark and we have three fantastic grandkids. It ended badly, but there were lots of good times.’