Woman left to freeze to death in grounds of Shrewsbury primary school after massive drugs binge

A 23-year-old woman froze to death in the grounds of a Shrewsbury primary school after taking a cocktail of drugs, an inquest has heard.

Woman left to freeze to death in grounds of Shrewsbury primary school after massive drugs binge

Young mother Charlotte Christodoulou's body was found in a doorway in the grounds of Harlescott Junior School on January 4, having slipped out of consciousness after earlier that day going on a "massive binge" of drugs which included cocaine and cannabis.

Her inquest was yesterday told how a friend had left her in the school grounds after she failed to scale the high perimeter fence. He promised he would come back for her – but didn't return until the following day.

Jamie Lloyd-Butler, who had gone on to the school grounds with Charlotte in an attempt to take a short-cut to a friend's house, denied he had left her to die. He revealed he had returned to the school after receiving a worried phone call from Charlotte's mother when she couldn't contact her daughter.

Police at Harlescott Junior School

Mr Lloyd-Butler, who had known Charlotte for three months, said the pair had tried to take a shortcut to a friend's house on the evening of January 2 when they became trapped by high perimeter fencing.

While Mr Lloyd-Butler, of Overstone, Harlescott, was able to scale the fencing surrounding the school's playing fields, Miss Christodoulou could not.

"I wouldn't just leave her there," said Mr Lloyd-Butler.

"I went over the fence and then told her to stay and wait and I would come back."

But he didn't return to look for her immediately and instead went back the following day, he told Mr John Ellery, coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

"I went back because her mum had telephoned asking where she was.

"I contacted the police and I went out looking for her but I could not find her."

Three people were arrested following the discovery of Miss Christodoulou's body. Two men, 32 and 39, and a woman, 31, all from the Shrewsbury area, were arrested on suspicion of obstructing a coroner. No further action was taken.

Following her death Miss Christodoulou's boyfriend Rich Arnold, of Malvern, Worcestershire, described her as "the best" and said he did not know what he would do without her.

According to witnesses Miss Christodoulou, of Sawston Close, Radbrook, had spent the last day of her life shoplifting and taking drugs.

Paul Davies, whose home in Craig Close, Harlescott the couple were trying to reach via a shortcut, told Mr Ellery that he had never met Miss Christodoulou before January 2 but she seemed drunk when he saw her.

He had given her and Mr Lloyd-Butler a lift to a home store on a nearby retail park.

Police at Harlescott Junior School

Laureen Williams told the inquest how she and Miss Christodoulou had gone to the home store to shoplift and had then sold the items to buy drugs.

"She told me she had been on a massive binge," said Miss Williams.

Mr Alexander Kolar, Home Office pathologist, said that toxicology tests showed Miss Christodoulou had levels of diazepam, cannabis, cocaine and morphine in her system.

He also found that she had numerous cuts and bruises on her body which were similar in type to those caused by being dragged or walking through thick vegetation.

He said: "There were features in her death of the type you find in cases of hypothermia. Hypothermia is not a quick death. The outside temperature at the time of her death was subzero."

Mr Ellery asked Mr Kolar if Miss Christodoulou would have been conscious for long. "She was not lying there conscious and functioning," he said. "Due to the drugs in her system her natural functions would have been reduced."

Police at Harlescott Junior School

He added that it appeared, due to the state the body was found in, that it had been moved at some point after death had occurred.

In reaching his conclusion of death by misadventure Mr Ellery said: "It was a freezing cold night and Miss Christodoulou was not wearing thick clothing.

"She was disorientated and confused. She and Mr Lloyd-Butler entered the playing fields to get to Mr Davis's house in Craig Close. They reached a high fence. Only Mr Lloyd-Butler was able to get over the fence.

"Miss Christodoulou could not and she remained in the playing fields area of the school. Mr Lloyd-Butler said he was going to come back and help her over the fence. He says he did go back and she had gone. Given where she was found, she went to try and find a way out but there was no way out, she was trapped.

"She slipped in to unconsciousness and then tragically died. It is Dr Kolar's view that at some time after death somebody has either turned Miss Christodoulou or moved her. The bare facts are that Miss Christodoulou with one other entered the playing fields, that one other left, Miss Christodoulou did not and she died of hypothermia."

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