A 27-year-old woman in England who was in training to be a psychologist and had already published articles in a medical journal, died of a drug overdose while she was celebrating her new job — working with drug users.
A coroner’s inquest in South Manchester found this week that in July, Jennifer Whiteley had nine different drugs in her system, including a so-called “legal high” known as Benzo Fury, when she broke into profuse sweats and collapsed with a rapid heartbeat at her parents’ home in Greater Manchester while partying with her 29-year-old boyfriend, Andrew Tunnah.
In addition to ingesting Benzo Fury — and amphetamine-like “designer drug” which Whiteley reportedly purchased over the internet before it was outlawed in the U.K. — she had been drinking vodka and snorting cocaine.
The day before, she was offered a job with a division of Britain’s National Health Service — the country’s government-run health care system — where she would help patients who abused drugs and also those who suffered from depression.
Whiteley (pictured) is described as a top student who had published professional articles in the Journal of Health Psychology. She was in the process of applying for a doctorate degree which would have allowed her to practice as a clinical psychologist.
The coroner’s findings left her parents in disbelief, saying that they were shocked that Jennifer, who suffered from panic attacks, would have used drugs that could elevate her blood pressure and heart rate.
“I’m quite sure Jennifer would have known the effects of some of the drugs mentioned,” her father, Edward Whiteley, told the Daily Telegraph. “It seems to me ludicrous that she would have taken as many drugs as she has done.”
“I find it very hard to believe that she would have done that. She was very knowledgeable,” her mother, Claire Whiteley said. “What we don’t really understand is how she would take something that would increase her heart rate when she had been having panic attacks. I know she was very aware because of her job.”
But Tunnah reportedly told police that he and his girlfriend, “have taken drugs hundreds if not thousands of times before. It was how we would chill out together.”
At the inquest hearing, Tunnah testified that the couple took “bombs” of the legally-purchased Benzo Fury, the technical name for which is 5-(2-aminopropyl) benzofuran, after sharing a pint of vodka mixed with orange juice. Whitely then took cocaine, at which point she turned red, Tunnah told the hearing.
Seeing that she was hot and sweating, he put her under a cool shower then left the bathroom to call an ambulance. When he returned, Whiteley was unconscious and twitching.
She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
SOURCES: Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail (2), Daily Mirror