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Winehouse Died of Alcohol Intake Five Times Drive Limit

Amy Winehouse performs at the annual Nationwide Mercury Prize music awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in  London on Sept. 4, 2007. Photographer: Carl Court/Bloomberg News
Amy Winehouse performs at the annual Nationwide Mercury Prize music awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Sept. 4, 2007. Photographer: Carl Court/Bloomberg News

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Amy Winehouse, the singer and songwriter, died in July after drinking more than five times the legal drunk-driving limit, a London inquest heard today.

A verdict of misadventure, or accidental death, was pronounced on the star, who was aged 27, by Suzanne Greenway, the coroner at St. Pancras Coroner’s Court.

Winehouse had started drinking after going for three weeks without alcohol, her personal physician told the hearing. Dr. Christina Romete said Winehouse had been drinking the night before, but remained coherent. She had ignored warnings about the danger to her heart, liver and breathing.

“She was looking forward to the future,” the doctor said.

Winehouse’s parents Mitch and Janis, who run the Amy Winehouse Foundation, listened in the public gallery. The charity aims to help young people facing ill health, disability, financial problems or addiction.

The singer was found with 416 milligrams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, a potentially fatal level and enough to stop her breathing and send her into a coma. The U.K. driving limit is 80 milligrams.

Police discovered three empty vodka bottles in the bedroom of her apartment in Camden, north London. A post-mortem examination found that her vital organs had been in good health and there were no traces of illegal drugs.

No Pulse

Winehouse’s live-in security guard Andrew Morris said she was awake and laughing at 2 a.m. that day, watching television and listening to music. She was making plans for the weekend. When he checked on her at 10 a.m., she appeared to be sleeping in bed. It was only at 3 p.m. that he realized she had no pulse or breathing. He called for an ambulance.

The singer shot to fame with “Rehab,” won five Grammy Awards and sold more than 5 million albums in her lifetime.

U.K. coroners have a range of possible verdicts, including natural causes, suicide, misadventure or unlawful killing.

“It is some relief to finally find out what happened to Amy,” Winehouse family spokesman Chris Goodman said in an e-mail. “We understand there was alcohol in her system when she passed away. It is likely a build-up of alcohol in her system over a number of days. The court heard that Amy was battling hard to conquer her problems with alcohol and it is a source of great pain to us that she could not win in time.”

To contact the writer of this story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net; http://twitter.com/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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