'Unanswered questions' over tragic & mysterious death of mum-of-three, 42, who drowned in shallow stream | The Sun

QUESTIONS remain over how a mum-of-three drowned in a shallow stream after falling in while unconscious.

Joanne Baird's lifeless body was discovered by two kids playing in Hey Brook stream, in Rochdale, Lancashire, in 2021.

The 42-year-old had been drinking in the area with a man named Asif Mahmood the previous day before being found on June 3.

At an inquest at Rochdale Coroner's Court on Monday, a coroner said there were "unanswered questions" over Joanne's tragic death.

The inquest heard Mr Mahmood met Joanne for the first time on June 2 as she sat on a sofa behind a barber shop, MEN reported.

CCTV showed the pair drinking and talking for around 15 minutes before they smoked cannabis at a local churchyard.

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They then headed to a ravine before Mr Mahmood said Joanne "stumbled and fell", he picked her up but she collapsed into the stream before he placed her on her back next to the water.

He left to buy more alcohol but returned minutes later to find Joanne in the same position, she told him to "leave her alone" and she would "sort myself out".

Mr Mahmood went home leaving Joanne.

She was found by two kids lying on her back in the stream with her face out of the water at around 2pm the next day.

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Her dad Robert Baird told the hearing that his daughter had struggled with drink and drugs for several years.

But "happy go lucky" Joanne had a "great personality and a lovely heart", he said.

Pathologist Dr Philip Lumb said Joanne died of "drowning", which he said had been caused by "alcohol and polydrug toxicity".

A toxicology report found alcohol levels in her blood were two-and-a-half times the legal drink drive limit.

A potentially fatal level of methadone was also found in her blood, alongside traces of cocaine and cannabis.

A post-mortem found Joanne had several injuries "typical of death caused by drowning", he added.

River specialist Dr Maddrell said the water level around Joanne would have risen after she fell in and water may have "splashed" in her face.

Mr Mahmood was arrested on suspicion of murder following Joanne's death – he denied hurting or causing her any injuries.

No further action was taken against him.

Recording an open conclusion, coroner Joanne Kearsley said there were "unanswered questions" but "not enough evidence that she was unlawfully killed".

She added: "I'm not satisfied that I have all the evidence to say exactly what happened on that day.

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"That's not to say she was assaulted, there's no evidence of that."

She said it was likely Joanne was unable to get out of the water due to being unconscious because of the drink and drugs in her system.

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