Toxicology leaves Winehouse death riddle unsolved

Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:58pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Toxicology results released to the family of singer Amy Winehouse this week raised almost as many questions as they answered, experts said Wednesday, keeping the cause of the "Rehab" singer's death a mystery.

The Winehouse family issued a statement Tuesday saying no illegal substances were found in the 27-year-old's system following her death at her north London home on July 23.

The absence of banned drugs may come as a relief to her father Mitch, given Winehouse's history of drug and alcohol addiction and rampant speculation about the role narcotics may have played in her shock passing.

"This doesn't make me feel the loss of my daughter any less, but we are pleased to be able to set the record straight to a certain extent," he told British tabloid, The Sun.

Yet the statement did not specify whether there were any legal drugs found and said "alcohol was present, but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death."

Adding to the confusion was the fact that the toxicology results were given to the family and not made public in their entirety, allowing them to protect her legacy.

Addiction experts and toxicologists said the information released Tuesday did little to solve the riddle of Winehouse's death. While the cause could become clearer at a full inquest to be held on October 26, even then it could be assessed as "undetermined."

"Combinations of perfectly legal substances can be lethal," said Jeremy Clitherow, a community pharmacist based in Liverpool, northern England, who specializes in addiction.   Continued...

<p>British singer Amy Winehouse arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>