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Second inquest confirms Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning

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LONDON -- Amy Winehouse died from accidental alcohol poisoning when she resumed drinking after a period of abstinence, a second coroner's inquest confirmed Tuesday.

Coroner Shirley Radcliffe ruled that the 27-year-old soul singer "died as a result of alcohol toxicity" and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. She said there were no suspicious circumstances.

She said Winehouse "voluntarily consumed alcohol -- a deliberate act that took an unexpected turn and led to her death."

Tuesday's verdict was identical to that produced by a first inquest in 2011. But the result of that hearing was annulled after the original coroner was found to lack the proper qualifications for the job.

The Grammy-winning singer, who fought a very public battle with drug and alcohol abuse for years, was found dead at her London home on July 23, 2011, with empty vodka bottles scattered around her.

Radcliffe said a postmortem had found that Winehouse had a blood alcohol level five times the legal driving limit, and above a level that can prove fatal.

She said that much alcohol could affect the central nervous system so much that a patient could "fall asleep and not wake up."

Pathologist Michael Sheaff told the inquest that Winehouse had likely suffered respiratory arrest after consuming so much alcohol. The level in her blood was 416 milligrams per 100 millilitres, a blood alcohol level of 0.4 per cent. The British legal driving limit is 0.08 per cent.

Winehouse's family did not attend the 45-minute inquest at St. Pancras Coroner's Court, near the singer's north London home.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 D2

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