AN inquest into the death of Wirral mum Anita Stevenson has concluded the cause was drug-related.

The 39-year-old's body was found by a member of the public at woodland in Bromborough on the morning of Saturday, November 26 last year.

A three-day inquest at Gerard Majella Courthouse in Bootle was told that on October 18 last year, between 2am and 3am, the mother-of-two was spotted on the New Ferry Bypass "in distress" and returned home by police who were concerned for her safety.

However, at 10.30am that day, she left her home in Bebington Road, Birkenhead and was not seen alive again.

An extensive search was launched to try to find her. Hundreds of hours of footage from more than 200 CCTV cameras were examined by police.

Pictures released to the media showed her walking near the Cock and Donkey pub on Well Lane on the last day of her appearance.

Her body was found five weeks later.

Partner Craig Gould, who had been in a relationship with Ms Stevenson for around four years, was arrested on suspicion of her murder after one of her phones was found hidden in a towel in the linen cupboard at their home.

He was later released without charge.

A police investigation concluded Ms Stevenson's death was not suspicious.

But this was disputed by her family, from Bradford, who had set up a Facebook campaign to help find her and travelled to Wirral during the search.

It emerged during the first day of the inquest that Ms Stevenson had left a note for Mr Gould in the dining room, which read: "I'm so sorry, no words will ever say how much I love you. Please believe me, I’m hurting for what I'm doing."

But it will never be known when the note was written or what Ms Stevenson's intention was.

A post-mortem examination showed no evidence to suggest that Ms Stevenson had been subjected to violence before her death.

A bag containing 17 grams of cocaine with a street value of up to £1,700 was found near the body. In a pocket of her coat was a plastic straw and Lloyds bank credit card.

A black handbag, containing 237mgs of amphetamines, with a street value of up to £2,370, was found nearby.

Toxicology tests proved Ms Stevenson – described by son Jake in a statement during the inquest as "an outgoing, very loving, very caring, great mother" - had smoked cocaine just before her death.

Pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers gave the cause of death on day one as cocaine toxicity, adding that it would have been very rapid.

He speculated that Ms Stevenson had died not long after going missing and may have lain undiscovered in woodland for up to five weeks until she was discovered on the morning of November 26.

More than 700 tributes were posted on the page after the discovery of her body.

It emerged during the inquest's second day that Ms Stevenson had sent messages to and met lover Daniel Bowen, who she met on Facebook, the night before she disappeared. In them she had threatened to jump in the River Mersey.

Mr Gould was upstairs in bed at their home at the time.

Teams from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, coastguard and the RNLI were involved in the search, which also involved trawling through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage.

Sgt Craig O’Brien was called by off-duty colleague Gareth Ward to rescue Ms Stevenson after she was found on New Ferry Bypass in the early hours of October 18.

He overhead her tell a fellow officer that she was drunk and had got lost.

But later, after going back home Ms Stevenson vanished again, to find her lost mobile phone and was never seen alive again.

The inquest began on October 4 and 5 and was adjourned for clarification on matters arising from the police investigation. It resumed today.

At the end coroner Anita Bhardwaj recorded a verdict that Ms Stevenson had died as the result of a drug-related death.

Addressing the deceased's family, Ms Bhardwaj said: "I don't know how you are feeling, and I'm not going to pretend to know how you are feeling.

"Each of you would have known Anita individually and have had your own special relationship.

"She was somebody that, clearly, you adored. She was going through difficult and challenging times.

"The only person who knew what they were was Anita, and she is not here to answer that.

"There was no doubt Anita was stuck in a complex life, which she kept secret from family."

On the police investigation, Ms Bhardwaj continued: "There was no evidence to suggest that Anita was at risk at home from others.

"There was no third-party involvement.

"Police acted reasonably in their duty. Their search was extensive and thorough.

"Anita had written a note, intending to do something, but it is unclear what."