Sudden adult death syndrome caused death of Ilford South MP’s daughter Rebecca Gapes, inquest decides

The tragic death of the 19-year-old daughter of Ilford South MP Mike Gapes was caused by sudden adult death syndrome, an inquest has decided.

Rebecca Gapes, who was discovered by a builder at her student house in Canterbury in May, is thought to have suffered sudden adult death syndrome on May 10, a rare condition where the heart mysteriously stops.

The day before her death, the former Hainault Forest High School student told her housemate she would be missing a trip to the cinema later that day.

On Thursday, Canterbury Coroner’s Court heard Rebecca’s housemate had read messages from her on Twitter saying she had vomited twice and taken Paracetamol.

By 9pm she had still not emerged from her bedroom and housemates asked about her health, to which she replied she was well.


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But on the following day she had not gone to lectures and there was no response from her room. A builder working on the house forced his way in and she was found dead.

Pathologist Dr Salim Anjarwalla told the hearing a post-mortem showed that while there was Paracetamol in her system it was not very high and he concluded Rebecca had almost certainly suffered a sudden cardiac death.

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Coroner Rebecca Cobb, who recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, said: “The clinical cause of death is unascertained, but I do consider there is no indication of unnatural causes.

“I would place this in the category of natural causes from sudden adult death syndrome.”?

There are about 500 cases a year of sudden adult death syndrome, which often has no warning signs, but some people can experience dizziness or fainting spells.

Labour MP Mr Gapes, speaking to the Recorder shortly after her death, said: “I have dealt with people who have been bereaved but until something awful like this happens to you, you can never understand how it feels.”

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