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Horsewoman Lara Purley, daughter of Formula 1 driver David Purley, died of accidental drug overdose after fall left her in constant pain

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AN all-action horsewoman who competed at Hickstead died of an accidental drugs overdose after a serious fall left her unable to ride and in chronic pain.

Lara Purley (49), from Lymington, suffered serious injuries when in 2013 her horse reared up and fell backwards on top of her causing fractures to her pelvis and legs.

She was the daughter of Formula 1 racing driver David Purley who died in an air crash in 1985.

The hearing was held at Winchester Coroners' Court
The hearing was held at Winchester Coroners' Court

An inquest at Winchester heard how Lara inherited her father’s love of adrenalin sports including flying, having gained her pilot’s licence.

According to sister Claudia, her greatest “passion” was horses and, apart from Hickstead, she also competed in the European show-jumping cup.

But in her early 40s the mum-of-two had the “horrendous” accident for which she underwent three operations and was left in constant pain having to rely on six to seven types of medication a day for relief.

A GP report revealed Lara had told her doctor that the pain left her “overwhelmed”, and she was being supported by a pain management clinic.

Lara had also been diagnosed as suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and the accident had left her struggling to walk.

At one time she had been in a wheelchair and had to give up working.

At the time of her death, she was waiting to go into hospital for an operation to alleviate some of the pain.

But on the morning of 12th November last year, Lara’s daughter Jade found her dead in bed after younger sister Tatum said she could not wake her.

In a statement, Jade said that after entering her mum’s bedroom: “I knew straight away that she had passed away.”

A postmortem examination revealed Lara had died of an overdose of her pain medication.

Friend Rebecca Foggin told how when she first met Lara she lived in a "lovely" house Burley and had several horses. She said: “Horses and her daughters were her life.”

At the time Lara seemed to have plenty of money, said Ms Foggin, but as time went on “it was becoming more of a problem”.

She eventually left for another job and got back in touch with Lara in 2019 by which time her friend had “downsized” to a house in Samber Close, Lymington, and no longer owned horses.

In a statement Ms Foggin said it was clear that “life had changed” for Lara, who told her she was suffering from severe pain but that she “wanted to get better” and was “very positive”.

She said that Lara would “never have taken her own life, she loved her daughters too much to ever leave them”.

Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson noted that the number of drugs and doses Lara had to take “made it difficult to manage” and he said there was no evidence to suggest she took her own life.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he told her family: “She simply went to sleep that evening and did not wake up."

In a tribute to Lara, her family called her "caring, fun, kind, having a naughty sense of humour. Touched many people's lives in so many different ways."

Her sister Olivia Tomes said: "She had a laugh that would light up a room. Her daughters were her reason for living."

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