Girlfriend of drowned man killed herself, inquest finds

John Paul Conley and his girlfriend Kate Downey

John Paul Conley and his girlfriend Kate Downey

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE broken-hearted girlfriend of a man who drowned in Laos took her own life months later, an inquest heard.

Kate Downey, from Middlesbrough, was found dead in a Newcastle hotel room in March - days before a charity tribute evening in memory of her late boyfriend John-Paul Conley.

Mr Conley died after being swept to his death in November while swimming in a river on Don Khone island, in Laos, East Asia, while the couple were travelling around the world together.

An inquest held at Newcastle Coroner's Court ruled that Miss Downey, of Welburn Grove, Ormesby, died as a result of suffocation and that she had taken her own life.

She died in a room at Newcastle International Airport's Premier Inn on Saturday, March 15 after concerns had been raised for her welfare.

The tragedy came just days before a tribute evening was due to be held in honour of 35-year-old Mr Conley in Acklam, Middlesbrough, featuring local bands, with the support of his family.

The evening was cancelled, with Kate's brother, Lee Downey, writing on a tribute website: "For those who knew them, Kate Downey and John-Paul Conley are now together forever.

"The pain and loss has proved too much for Kate to bear. Hope you have found your Shangri-la, having the next great adventure with Jonny. RIP our beautiful sister."

The couple had been away travelling for a year together when Mr Conley was swept away while swimming in the river. He was missing for four days, in which time well wishers helped to raise over £30,000 to fund helicopter sweeps of the river. Fishing boats were also drafted in to help in the search as it was hoped he may have been able to pull himself on to an island. However his body was later found swept up on a beach.

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