Family's tributes to tragic teen
Desperately tragic: Catherine Rycroft with her friend Chloe before she passed away CHEM280510Rycroft-1.JPG
FAMILY and friends of a popular, intelligent 17-year-old girl, who died after telling her boyfriend she could not live without him, have spoken of their loss.
Speaking after a coroner recorded an open verdict at the inquest into the death of his daughter Catherine, Dr Peter Rycroft said his daughter was "a social animal". Dr Rycroft, who works in the energy industry, found Catherine's unconsicous body, surrounded by pills in January last year. Describing his daughter's character, he said: "She was the hub. She organised things. I have never known anybody have so many phone calls regularly."
Such was Catherine's popularity, on the day of her funeral the entire upper sixth of Rainham Mark Grammar School, where Catherine was a pupil, was given the day off.
When she was in the hospital, Dr Rycroft said the staff had trouble controlling the amount of people who came to visit Catherine. He said: "It got up to 73 at one stage."
Dr Rycroft and his wife Linda, of Moor Park Close, Rainham, said their daughter was "exceptional". She had 13 GCSEs and was studying four A levels.
At home she was affectionately known as "Bumpy". Dr Rycroft explained: "When she was a youngster she had big blonde curly hair. She would run around and bump into things."
Catherine was tenderly remembered by friends who wrote in a special memorial book. One friend, Harriet, wrote: "Miss you like mad. You'll always be with me."
Another, Chloe, wrote: "I love you so much and I will never forget you."
Dr Rycroft said: "There are always fresh flowers on her grave. She used to like diet Red Bull. Someone even put tins there."
At the inquest, Coroner Roger Sykes said Catherine's untimely death was "desperately tragic".
The inquest heard how the fashion-conscious teenager took a fatal overdose of her father's painkillers after returning home early from a night out with friends in Chatham.
She took oxycodone, an opiate painkiller prescribed to her father following knee surgery, as she battled with depression and struggled to come to terms with the end of a turbulent relationship.
In a text message she sent her sweetheart the night of the overdose she said: "There is no point in living if I can't have you."
Catherine and Matthew Wilkins' relationship began in 2008. Both teenagers were prescribed medication for depression. According to Mr Wilkins' statement read at the inquest, it made their relationship "very up and down"
At Christmas, Mr Wilkins sent Catherine a text message suggesting he was planning to take his own life.
Catherine's sister Nicole told the coroner: "When she came down to open her presents that was all she could think about. She was very upset about it."
When Nicole, who now lives in Brighton, talked to her sister after Christmas she said sounded much better.
Former boyfriend Matthew Wilkins told police in a statement read at the inquest said that Catherine "did not have a good home life and was particularly unhappy."
He claimed Catherine was a regular user of recreational drugs such as MDMA and cocaine and suggested there was a lot of medication in the house that was not safely stored.
In a statement read at the inquest, PC Grant of Kent Police said: "There was a set of bookshelves. Four of the shelves had boxes of medication." All of the drugs were prescribed.
Catherine's sister Nicole said she was aware that the painkillers she took were strong.
On January 3, she returned home from a night at the Tap n Tin in Chatham.
Dr Rycroft told the inquest that Catherine returned home pale and had been crying.
Later, as Dr Rycroft was getting ready for bed, Catherine came in to his room and said: "Dad, I really, really love you."
Catherine made a telephone call from her bedroom to Ross Brown, a former boyfriend. In a statement read at the inquest Mr Brown said she had been upset but cheered up during the call. They arranged to meet after the weekend.
Catherine told Mr Brown she had taken some of her father's painkillers but when he expressed his concern she said she had only taken a couple.
Mr Brown said Catherine was drowsy and he had to ask her several times if she was still there. Assuming she was asleep he hung up, but tried to call back and sent her a text saying he was looking forward to seeing her.
Catherine was found by her father and taken to Medway Maritime Hospital at about 7am on Sunday, January 4, 2009. She died on January 6.
The coroner, Mr Sykes, said: "There was a reasonable doubt that at the time of taking the tablets, she did so with the intention of taking her life."
The cause of death was a hypoxic brain injury and oxycodone poisoning. It could not be established when Catherine took the pills or whether or not she took them together.