Laura McCluskie inquest: Coroner calls for further investigation into suspicious death of Doncaster mother who died from overdose

A coroner has called for police to investigate the suspicious death of a Doncaster mother more closely.

By Grace Newton
Friday, 29th April 2022, 11:21 am

Laura Kaye McCluskie, 44, was found dead at a property in Cantley on January 16 2021, having apparently taken an overdose of an unspecified substance.

South Yorkshire Police arrested Nigel Carr, 56, whose relationship to her was not clarified, on suspicion of her murder after fears were raised that she had been forced to take the medication against her will - yet he was later released without charge and is no longer under investigation.

However assistant coroner for Doncaster Matthew Stanbury adjourned an inquest at Doncaster Coroner's Court today and asked police to provide additional evidence and investigate the case further.

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Laura McCluskie was 44 when she died

A postmortem found bruising to Ms McCluskie's arms that could have been consistent with her being gripped, but South Yorkshire Police said that there were no injuries apparent to her face that would suggest force was used.

Investigating officers told the hearing that there was some dispute over an unpaid wage that Mr Carr claimed was owed to Ms McCluskie by her employers B&M Bargains, but financial analysis of her bank accounts found that a salary credit was paid to her on December 31, 2020. No other credits from B&M were recorded. There was a suggestion that Ms McCluskie was in 'debt' to Mr Carr.

Mr Carr told police that he had checked on her at 7am on the morning of her death and heard her snoring, before walking their dog, watching Sky Sports and a Leeds United match on TV and eventually returning to her bedroom at 4pm. His mobile phone movements were not analysed, but police officers told the court that the signals would likely have hit the same cells as their home address had he been walking the dog around the block and not left the area.

The tablets ingested by Ms McCluskie were recovered from the kitchen bin which Mr Carr had cleaned.

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A video recorded by Mr Carr on January 15 showed him repeatedly asking Ms McCluskie to admit that she had taken the tablets, but Mr Stanbury raised concerns that 'he talked over Laura' and her responses were not audible. She could be heard at one point asking him 'why are you recording me and stressing me out?'

Police were unable to access Ms McCluskie's mobile phone after her death as forensic experts were unable to crack the PIN as the handset had a security patch. A message was sent from her number saying 'tell (her children) Chloe and Aaron I am sorry' but it could not be conclusively established who had typed it.

Mr Stanbury said: "This case should be looked at a lot more closely. I will give the police 56 days to provide outstanding material, but the inquest is now not likely to be heard before the summer. Material has not been provided. I have not seen Laura's medical records or Mr Carr's interview tapes. I want clarity on the mobile phone records and the footage that Mr Carr took requires further enhancement work. I want to see the financial investigator's report."

The inquest was attended by a large number of Ms McCluskie's relatives, including her grown-up children Aaron and Chloe.

Speaking after the inquest the family said: "This (further investigation) is what we wanted".

South Yorkshire Police said: "There is no active criminal investigation; the suspect arrested was released with no further action as there was no evidence of an assault."