Woman ‘ravaged’ by drugs died in fire after taking ‘monkey dust’

News

A woman’s family spent a week searching desperately for her after she went missing – unaware she was dead following a fire.

Lucy Wright, 40, was found dead at a derelict building after going missing from her Trentham, Staffordshire home.

An inquest heard she had taken stimulant synthetic drug ‘monkey dust,’ which has similar effects to crystal methamphetamine, before dying in the blaze.

It later emerged she had left her house on the day she disappeared and caught a taxi to a Post Office box in Stoke.

It had been her regular collection point for drugs she’d ordered online.

An inquest this week heard how the ‘hugely talented’ ceramics designer was last seen alive hours later by members of the public as she called at a Spar shop and then ate a takeaway.

But when firefighters were called to an explosion in a brick outbuilding in Shelton, in the early hours of the next day, they failed to spot her body in the debris.

It would be another six days before Lucy’s remains were discovered behind the derelict site.

She had taken a drug known as ‘monkey dust’ and lit tea lights, which are thought to have sparked the fire.

Now her family have paid tribute to the Staffordshire University graduate, who had gained a first-class degree in ceramics before an abusive boyfriend introduced her to drugs.

Stepfather Keith Morris said: “She was the most caring person I ever met.

“But the people she got involved with, they were streetwise. She was naïve. She was a victim.”

Lucy’s cousin Vicki Gwynne added: “She was so beautiful, so talented, so loved, but she didn’t believe she was loved.”

When Lucy took drugs, she liked to go to a secluded spot and would sometimes light a fire.

On one previous occasion, she had nearly set her hair alight with a gas canister.

She had begun to suffer mental health problems following her father’s death when she was just 19

Lucy received counselling and later joined a support group.

But it was at the group that she met the man who was to lure her into drugs and would also beat her up.

In January 2018, she had her first experience of monkey dust and would also take diazepam she bought online.

Monkey dust is a strong drug with similar effects t crystal methamphetamine, which can cause anxiety and paranoia.

It is typically inhaled or snorted.

Her mum Liz Wright recalled the night before Lucy went missing on September 4, 2019.

She had gone out after dinner and then returned home.

When Liz got up the following day, her daughter had already slipped out of the house in Willowfield Drive, leaving her mobile phone behind.

A missing person’s investigation was launched. Officers established Lucy wasn’t with her ex-partner and, through an appeal in The Sentinel, managed to piece together her last known movements.

Detective Constable Alexandra Gould said: “It wasn’t until September 11 that we got made aware of the discovery of what were believed to be human remains.”

Several people had been clearing out debris after the outbuilding fire six days earlier.

Due to the heat effects and decomposition, it was impossible to determine exactly how Lucy had died.

Pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar said alpha-PHP – a designer synthetic drug similar to monkey dust – was found in her system, along with a relatively low level of carbon monoxide.

He said there was ‘no positive evidence’ to show she’d been alive during the fire, but couldn’t say whether she had already died when it took hold.

Fire investigation officer Jacob Tinsley, from West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, said Lucy didn’t appear to have been ‘aware of the fire’ as she hadn’t tried to escape.

Near her body were two pipes, the tea light bases and a small blowtorch.

“The most likely injection source was the tea lights due to them being a naked flame,” said Mr Tinsley.

A deodorant can – one of the items Lucy bought from the Spar shop – had caused the loud bang.

The inquest heard there is an ongoing investigation by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service into why the outbuilding wasn’t properly searched on the night of the blaze.

North Staffordshire area coroner Emma Serrano recorded a conclusion of accidental death.