A CORONER has ruled that a Little Lever mum unlawfully killed her two young daughters, giving them massive amounts of methadone to drink and then killed herself.

At Bolton Coroner's Court assistant coroner Peter Sigee heard how 27-year-old Tiffany Stevens had become convinced that she had brought her daughters, Casey-Lea Taylor, aged three and 18-month-old Darcey Stevens, into a corrupt world.

"I have chosen to kill us in my children's best interests," she wrote in notes discovered after their bodies were found at their terraced home in Arthur Street.

Just six weeks before their deaths the court heard that Tiffany had made a suicide pact with another woman she had met while she was growing up in care.

They met at the Travelodge hotel in Bolton but the woman pulled out of the arrangement after Ms Stevens turned up accompanied by her daughters.

The inquest heard that on January 21, 2019, relatives became concerned because they had been unable to contact Ms Stevens for a week and so her brother and ex-partner forced their way into the house through a back door before calling the emergency services.

The Bolton News: Police car at Arthur StreePolice car at Arthur Stree

In a statement, paramedic Kirsty Ogden told how she found Ms Stevens and Casey-Lea lying on a mattress on the living room floor underneath a duvet. Both were dead.

And Darcey was found in a buggy by the front door. She was also dead.

Home office pathologist Prof Philip Lumb told the court that  the family had probably been dead for about a week.

Toxicology tests showed that Darcey died from enough methadone to prove fatal to an adult.

When Casey-Lea was examined she had also been given methadone and had been injected in her abdomen with insulin. Tramadol, and morphine were also found and Prof Lumb concluded she died from drug toxicity.

The Bolton News: Darcey and Casey-LeaDarcey and Casey-Lea

Ms Stevens had a fatal level of morphine in her system, had injected insulin and methadone, Tramadol and Pregabalin were found. None of the drugs had been prescribed to her.

In response to a question from Ms Stevens' mother, Bobby-Jo Stevens, Prof Lumb stated that the drugs Ms Stevens and the girls had taken would have rendered them unconscious before death.

"I don't think there would be any pain or suffering," he said.

Police believe Darcey was killed first as Ms Stevens was seen on CCTV on January 11 at the post office in Little Lever and a pharmacy, where she bought syringes. Casey-Lea was with her but her youngest daughter was not.

Forensic clinical psychologist Dr Adrian West was called in by police to try and establish Tiffany Stevens' state of mind, before the tragedy, from a series of notes she wrote.
Ms Stevens had done Google searches about methods of killing herself and her children and listed reasons for doing so.

The Bolton News: Tiffany StevensTiffany Stevens

"It is almost as if she saw suicide as some magical act with relatively little awareness of the finality of it or the reality of the anguish and grief she might cause for those left behind," he said.

"She could certainly foresee the consequences of what she was doing," said Dr West, who added that Ms Stevens felt a "burden of shame" that social services wanted to ensure her children were safe.

"She thought that people around thought she was not a capable mother and she was very acutely embarrassed and distressed by that because she thought she was and she was trying her best," he said.

Ms Stevens felt she was being blamed for her past and explained herself in extensive, articulate notes she wrote.

She stated: "Everyone has always assumed I am nobody, with no capacity to want the best for my babies, but actually I can assure you I have the heart and deep knowledge to be the best and most incredible mother alive, which is the biggest reason I killed us."

Ms Stevens' mother told the inquest that her daughter would research conspiracy theories and corruption and had been fixated with suicide from the age of 17.

"For Tiffany, she was going to another dimension. She just thought the world was corrupt and bad and no matter how much you tried to reason with her, it was just a bad world," said Ms Stevens.

Tiffany's own father died from a drugs overdose when she was five, she suffered abuse and was placed in care from the age of 11.

Ms Stevens had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder but failed to engage with mental health services and although she and her children were known to social services, she was reluctant to deal with them, fearing the girls would be taken from her.

However, a health visitor who previously dealt with her describied her a "loving" mum who ensured her daughters were well-dressed and looked after.

Describing it as "one of the saddest cases I have ever heard", Mr Sigee recorded conclusions that Darcey and Casey-Lea were unlawfully killed and Tiffany Stevens died as a result of suicide.

Mr Sigee said Tiffany Stevens' actions towards her children "would have constituted murder" if she had survived.

Following the deaths Bolton Council carried out a review of their procedures and an independent serious case review was held.

But Ian Walker, Bolton Council's assistant director for social care and early help, stated that, although changes have been made since, he does not believe they would have altered the outcome for Ms Stevens and her daughters.

"It remains my professional opinion that it may not have had any significant impact on Tiffany's decision to take her own life and that of her children," he said.