A pregnant mother-of-five died after drinking industrial-strength vinegar during an attempted home abortion she had researched online.
Catherine Furey, 38, suffered a violent and eventually fatal reaction to the concentrated acid similar to that used in a chip shop.
A police investigation was launched and officers arrested her sister-in-law Dawn Chadwick for handing her the vinegar bottle in late 2010.
She was eventually charged with manslaughter but after an 18-month investigation this was dropped this week, allowing the details of this tragic case to be revealed for the first time.
Mrs Furey’s family said today they then suffered ‘a second tragedy’ when Mrs Chadwick, 33, was later charged with manslaughter for allegedly helping Mrs Furey abort the baby.
But Mrs Chadwick, a mother-of-four who has learning difficulties, was finally cleared of any wrongdoing following an 18-month investigation.
It is thought Mrs Chadwick took the bottle of vinegar out of a cupboard and passed it to Mrs Furey, who then took it into another room and drank it.
Catherine may have researched using vinegar for an abortion on the internet and after trying it was rushed to North Manchester General on December 1, 2010, where she died.
Her sister-in-law was arrested seven months later in July 2011 and charged with unlawfully supplying a poisonous or noxious substance with the intent to cause the miscarriage of a woman.
In January this year prosecutors raised the charge to manslaughter and Mrs Chadwick was facing a trial at Manchester Crown Court. But now, after reviewing the file, the CPS has dropped the case against her.
Last night Mrs Furey’s husband Craig said that he was too upset to talk about the tragedy.
Mrs Furey was taken to North Manchester General Hospital where she died in December 2010
And Dawn Chadwick’s family said she should never have been charged.
Her solicitor Alex Preston said: ‘Catherine died in tragic circumstances.
‘From the outset, her family made it abundantly clear to both the police and the CPS that they did not blame Dawn for Catherine’s death. Indeed, Catherine’s sister described her prosecution as a “second tragedy”.
‘Dawn was devastated by her friend’s death.
HEALTH WARNING FOLLOWING TRAGIC CASE
Abortion specialists have warned that there are dozens of myths on the internet about how to terminate a pregnancy.
They said that any woman wanting information about abortions should speak to their doctor, trained medics or abortion clinics.
Natika H Halil, Director of Information Services from the Family Planning Association, said: ‘We know that there are many myths and misinformation about abortion on the internet, that’s why it’s so important to use trusted sources to gain accurate information on how to access abortion services.’
‘Dawn has significant learning difficulties and should never have been charged with the initial charge of supplying a noxious substance to cause an abortion. Despite this, the CPS actually elevated the charge she faced several months later to manslaughter and it is not until now – a full 18 months after Catherine’s death – that her name has been cleared.
‘Dawn is extremely relieved that her ordeal is finally over. She and the rest of the family would now like to be left alone to grieve.’
The case against her was dropped as they had little evidence apart from elements of Dawn Chadwick’s police interviews