AN inquest has opened into the death of a woman at a York hostel almost three years ago.

Sam Westbury, 47, was staying at Robinson Court in Walmgate, run by the charity Changing Lives, in November 2018 when she was found unresponsive in her bed.

Her friend Charlotte White told the inquest Sam had texted her the day before to say she had taken some tablets.

She said she felt reassured that Sam was being looked after having called the hostel to tell staff about the tablets. “You trusted them to keep her safe,” she said.

The jury inquest heard that staff made repeated welfare checks on Sam after the call and found her asleep in bed, but then discovered her unresponsive at 3.45pm the following day. They called 999 and paramedics arrived, and CPR was performed but in vain.

The hearing was told that Sam, 47, suffered from a range of mental and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and a personality disorder.

She also suffered from back pain, for which she needed painkillers, and had previously suffered from throat cancer.

Ms White said she had felt isolated and her mental health had deteriorated after moving to the hostel from one in Leeds, where she had been staying after being released from prison.

“She was in constant pain,” she said. “Her back was painful and she had a sore throat. She had had throat cancer before and was concerned she had it again. Her mum died at the beginning of the September and she kept telling me she wanted to join her mum.”

The hearing was told that the cause of death was respiratory failure due to opiate overdose.

It heard that a serious incident report drawn up after Sam’s death by the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust had concluded that a case risk assessment had not been completed before she moved to the hostel from one in Leeds, and there was no care plan or safety plan in place for her and no effective handover.

Care coordinator Adrian O’Reilly said he had worked for the trust to help Sam transition from prison to public life after her release.

He said that at the time of her move to York, her mental health had been stable but it had then declined, due to the environment at the hostel after she arrived. “Her opinion of York went downhill very quickly,” he said.

Andrew Sturgeon, care coordinator for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Foundation NHS Trust, said he had had no concerns about a risk of self harm or suicide by Sam.

Asked how he had reacted when he heard she had died, he said: “I was very upset - shocked. She was presenting that she was doing OK. She was utilising the skills she had learnt in prison. She was enjoying voluntary work. It was a surprise.”

A representative for Robinson Court suggested to him that staff had been placed in an ‘invidious position’ because they had not been informed of Sam’s personality disorder diagnosis. “Yes, I guess so,” he replied. The inquest continues today.

l To contact The Samaritans, phone 116 123 from any phone for free 24/7.