Katie Lee Howman
Katie Lee Howman

Husband tells of heartbreak after wife's lethal overdose

A HEART-broken husband has told an inquest of the moment he found his beautiful wife dead on a bathroom floor after she had fatally injected herself with a powerful drug.

Toowoomba nurse Katie Lee Howman, 30, died on December 21, 2013, after she injected herself with a fatal dose of the synthetic opioid Fentanyl, a medical grade drug.

Her husband, Heath Howman, told the Brisbane Magistrates Court during a special sitting on Thursday that his wife was a wonderful person who thrived on helping others.

He said she was a loving wife and the best partner anyone could wish for.

"She loved nursing because she loved helping others," he said.

"Sometimes she would receive letters from patients thanking her for her bedside manner.

"We are all shocked by Katie's death and continue to struggle with her loss.

"As a family we hope something positive comes out of this so no other family has to go through what we did."

Mr Howman broke down when recalling the morning he found his wife dead on a bathroom floor.

He said he had come home early from work because they had planned to travel to Warwick to catch up with friends from NSW.

"I opened the garage door and my son came running out saying Mummy was in the bathroom and would not let him in," he said.

"Our daughter was in her bedroom crying which I immediately thought was odd.

"I noticed the bathroom door was locked, so I went and got a bread knife to open the door and I found Katie lying on the floor.

"Her feet were blue and there was a syringe next to her body.

"I dragged her out, called 000 and started performing CPR."

Mr Howman told the inquest earlier that his wife first overdosed on her first day back at work after maternity leave.

He said it came as a complete shock.

"She said she had heard of other nurses doing it," he said.

"I asked her if she had tried to take her own life, but she assured me that was not the case."

Mr Howman told the court about a conversation he had with his wife a week before she died.

He said he had suspected for months that she could have been using drugs again, but could not see any needle marks or bruises on her body.

"I told her that if she did not start being honest with me she could go live with her parents," he said.

"I was essentially telling her to leave.

"I asked her if she was injecting anything and she swore to me she was not, but she still did not admit that she had a problem."

The inquest will examine, among other things, how Mrs Howman obtained more than 3000 Tramadol and Oxycodone tablets from no less than 30 different doctors in the Toowoomba area while she was under professional supervision for drug addiction.

Coroner Christine Clements adjourned the inquest which will resume in Toowoomba next week.


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