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Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Woman cleared of murder 'overdosed'
Trevor Armitage
Humphreys claimed Trevor Armitage regularly beat and raped her
A verdict of misadventure has been returned on a former prostitute who died three years after being cleared of murdering her violent boyfriend.

Emma Humphreys, 30, was found dead at her flat in Holloway, north London on 11 July 1998, after taking an overdose of a sleeping drug.

She had been jailed for life at Nottingham Crown Court in 1985, aged 17, for stabbing to death Trevor Armitage.

Humphreys appealed against her murder conviction on the grounds of long-term provocation and was freed in July 1995 after her conviction was reduced to manslaughter.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Abigail Seltzer told the inquest Ms Humphreys had a borderline personality disorder, multiple dependencies and an eating disorder. She weighed only five stone at her death.

Emma Humphreys
Emma Humphreys was "troubled" by her past, said her GP
When friend, and prominent women's rights campaigner, Julie Bindel, found her dead there was a 200 millilitre bottle of chloral hydrate by her bed and it was only one-sixth full.

Thursday's inquest at St Pancras Coroner's Court in London, heard Humphreys had 20 times the recommended dose of chloral hydrate in her blood at the time of her death.

Her GP, Dr Mayur Gor, told the inquest she was given 200 millilitres weekly but at times needed more, and alternative medicines for her insomnia had not worked.

He said she was deeply troubled by her past.

Miss Bindel added that repeated detoxification attempts had failed and Ms Humphreys continued to be prescribed choral hydrate by Dr Gor.

"Her spirit was strong. I didn't think for one minute that that was the last day I would see her alive."

Rosie Fitzharris, friend
Ms Humphreys, who was originally from Dolgellau, north Wales, met Mr Armitage while working as a prostitute. He became her pimp as well as her boyfriend and she said he frequently beat and raped her.

It was hailed as a landmark case by women's rights groups.

While in Holloway prison Miss Humphreys was prescribed chloral hydrate to help her sleep. She continued to take it after her release but overdosed on it several times before her death.

'Couldn't help herself'

Her friend Rosie Fitzharris, who was the last to see her alive, said she had overdosed about 10 times since coming out of jail.

She said: "I don't think she believed that the chloral hydrate would kill her but because she was so addicted to it she couldn't help herself at times."

Miss Fitzharris said in the week before her death her friend had been concerned about making a statement about an alleged rape to the police.

A jury returned a unanimous verdict of death by misadventure, caused by trichloroethanol poisoning.

Coroner Dr Stephen Chan said Humphreys had a troubled life and said: "It is very tragic that at the young age of 30 she died in the manner she did."

Outside the inquest, Ms Bindel said her friend's death was an indictment of the criminal justice system.

She said: "She was thrown out of prison and left to her own devices."

But she said: "Emma is still an important symbol of a woman who went through tremendous sexual violence but fought back and beat the criminal justice system."

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