A mother-of-eight died after drinking up to 18 pints of Coca-Cola a day, an inquest has heard.
Mum-of-eight Natasha Marie Harris would go “crazy” if she ran out of the fizzy drink
Natasha Marie Harris, 30, died on February 25, 2010 in Invercargill on New Zealand’s south island.
Her partner Christopher Hodgkinson claimed it was a result of drinking too much Coca-Cola.
On Thursday he told the inquest Natasha had been unwell leading up to her death and had no energy, but the idea Coca-Cola caused the problem had never crossed their minds.
Mr Hodgkinson told the court that she had been unwell up to a year before her death, including vomiting six times a week, but they believed it was caused by the stress of looking after her eight children and gynaecological problems.
“She drank at least 10 litres a day,” he said. “The first thing she would do in the morning was have a drink of Coke and the last thing she would do in the day was have a drink of Coke by her bed.’’
Police who investigated the death estimated she consumed, on average, seven litres a day.
Her partner said she was addicted to Coke and without it she would get moody, irritable and be low
“I didn’t ever think about the Coke. I never considered it would do any harm to a person. It’s just a soft drink, just like drinking water ... I didn’t think a drink’s going to kill you,’’ he said.
Vivien Hodgkinson, Mr Hodgkinson’s mother, said she would go “crazy’’ if she ran out of the drink.
An autopsy showed Natasha had a diseased liver but the cause of death was undetermined.
Her partner said he had been told she had a heart aneurysm caused by too much Coke.
Medical evidence stated that the main finding of death was from a cardiac arrhythmia.
Dr Dan Mornin told the court Natasha probably had severe hypokalemia, a lack of potassium in the blood, relating to excessive consumption of soft-drink.
He said although it was difficult to confirm this from post-mortem tests, it was consistent with her symptoms of tiredness and lack of strength and other cases of heavy soft-drink consumers.
He added it was likely the vomiting was due to too much caffeine, medically known as caffeine toxicity.
In June last year Coca-Cola confirmed it had hired a security firm to shadow its staff, after Mr Hodgkinson allegedly made death threats against the company.
He rejected claims he had made the threats, but said he held the company responsible for Harris’ death.
Coca-Cola’s New Zealand managing director George Adams said at the time that Mr Hodgkinson’s claims were “patently untrue’’.