Updated: PARTY drug mephedrone is likely to have been a factor in the death of a 24-year-old from North Yorkshire, an inquest heard.

Lois Waters, of Norton, died in March after taking the then legal high with her friend Sarah Ford.

At the inquest in Scarborough yesterday, Miss Ford broke down in tears as she recalled finding her friend dead, only two days after they had taken mephedrone together.

The inquest heard that mephedrone, which has since been outlawed following a campaign by The Press, was likely to have contributed to her death.

Miss Waters was taking prescribed antidepressants when she took the drug and the combination may have affected an undetected underlying heart condition, a doctor said.

Miss Waters was found at Miss Ford’s house in Riverside View on March 22 after taking mephedrone, also known as M-Cat or Miaow Miaow, in the early hours of March 20.

She was described by her family as the “perfect daughter”, and the Rev Bill Ankers, who conducted her funeral, said the tragedy had brought shock and sadness.

Dr Simon Elliott, a consultant forensic toxicologist, told the inquest that little was known about mephedrone, which was “relatively new” in the UK, but it could not be ruled out as contributing to Miss Waters’s death.

He said the drug, a stimulant like ecstasy, worked in a similar way to antidepressants Miss Waters was taking, and could have reacted with that medication to affect her heart.

The inquest heard that a post-mortem examination recorded Miss Waters’s cause of death as “early myocardial ischemia and patchy bronchopneumonia”.

Dr Elliott said: “Mephedrone could have an impact on the heart. She has obviously got some underlying heart condition. There’s a strong chance that it would have an effect.”

He added: “I would say, in my opinion, on the balance of probability, I don’t think you can rule out that it has contributed to the death, because there is a strong chance of it affecting the heart due to its similarities with other amphetamines.”

Miss Ford, who had been friends with Miss Waters for 14 years, broke down in tears as she told the inquest about the days leading up to her friend’s death.

She said she took mephedrone with Miss Waters in the early hours of March 20 and said the pair had taken the drug “many times” before.

She said: “Lois had been out drinking in the Railway Tavern in Norton and was quite jolly and quite drunk, but she appeared to be okay and didn’t complain of feeling unwell. I saw her take mephedrone, she had taken it before, and I took it with her – quite a few people were taking it.”

Miss Ford said she had returned home alone and then phoned Lois asking her to come round.

“She had a coffee with me and my mum then said she wanted to have a lay down on the sofa,” she said.

“I later woke Lois and told her to get into my bed and we slept there together for a while.

“Later that evening mum had said it was time Lois was going home, but she asked if she could stay as she wasn’t feeling too well.”

Miss Ford got into her son’s bed and let Miss Waters sleep in hers, but she found her friend dead the next morning.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, coroner Michael Oakley said: “Those drugs she was being treated with may have interacted with the mephedrone.”

Mr Oakley said it should be added Miss Waters’s cause of death, of early myocardial ischemia and patchy bronchopneumonia, was contributed to by mephedrone and antidepressant medication.

Paper’s drive to ban ‘party high’

Our sister paper The Press launched its Menace of Mephedrone campaign in January, after a student at Woldgate College, Pocklington, collapsed after taking the drug.

They petitioned the Government calling for the drug to be banned and, following growing national calls in the wake of other scares and tragedies, it was outlawed in April.

The drug was linked to the deaths of Scunthorpe teenagers Louis Wainwright and Nicholas Smith in March, but toxicology tests earlier this month suggested they had not in fact taken the drug.