Luton anti-fascist activist Edel Carroll died after taking cocktail of drugs, inquest concludes

Ampthill Coroners Court
Ampthill Coroners Court

An anti-fascist activist from Luton with a history of mental illness died after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs, an inquest heard today.

Edel "Lola" Carroll, 47, was a regular at political rallies in the UK and frequently went head-to-head with the far right on social media.

On July 12 last year, she was found dead in the living room of her home in Jubilee Street by a neighbour.

A three-page letter was found near her body announcing her intention to take her own life.

The night before, Ms Carroll had emailed her partner a picture of some pills along with the message "goodbye", prompting him to ask her neighbour to check on her.

Today at Ampthill Coroner's Court, her daughter told the inquest her mother had made a similar attempt a year previously and she described her actions as "a cry for help".

She said: "I don't think she wanted to die. Every time before, there had been some sort of contingency plan to stop her but this time that fell through...

"I don't think she would have emailed her boyfriend the picture if she wanted to die."

In the letter described as a "suicide note" by police, Ms Carroll said she had lived a "sh** life" and described suffering abuse as a child and adult.

She criticised Kent and Bedfordshire Police forces, which were both investigating her for offences at the time of her death, and she described her mental health treatment by East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) as "woeful".

She wrote: "On your heads be it .... you're all so bl***y smug, as though those who oppose hate are some kind of terrorists.

"You never listen to desperate people."

Ms Carroll had been treated by mental health services in Luton since 2006 and had formal diagnoses of Mixed Personality Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with bouts of paranoia.

According to one of her doctors, the mum-of-four had suffered a "brutal" attack by the English Defence League (EDL) at a rally in 2015 when she was pushed down a flight of stairs, along with a further attack by an EDL member in 2016.

In written evidence, her partner stated: "She was scared knowing what the far right were capable of. She constantly got death threats and threats of rape."

He added that Ms Carroll had also received six safety warnings from police.

Despite her long history with Luton mental health services, Ms Carroll had only a sporadic attendance record at appointments, although she was noted to have a good relationship with her probation officers.

A Serious Incident Report after her death by ELFT found that processes could have been improved to identify risk assessment needs, as well as to improve communications with the Probation Service.

Senior Coroner for Luton and Bedfordshire, Emma Whitting, accepted the evidence given by Ms Carroll's daughter and friend and ruled out suicide as a cause of death.

The coroner instead concluded that Ms Carroll had a drug-related death.

Mrs Whitting said: "She was clearly a very brave and determined woman who stood up for what she believed in.

"I make no comment on the rights or wrongs of her actions, or those of others...

"Fighting against racism or indeed any kind of hate is not only a democratic right, but it is the bedrock of a peaceful and civilised society.

"Her passing is undoubtedly a loss for all of us."