A 'FIERCELY independent' 18-year-old Winchester woman died after taking ecstasy while backpacking in Thailand, an inquest heard.

Eleanor Yates, of Sarum Close, was found dead in her bunk-bed in the Ko Pha-ngan district on February 19 last year.

The inquest, held at Portsmouth Coroners' Court on May 4, heard that she had been travelling extensively in her gap year. Her plan was to go to the University of Bristol to study film.

The 18-year-old had attended a full moon party on February 17. The inquest heard that she had taken an ecstasy tablet, also known as MDMA.

However, she was found dead at 9am on February 19.

The inquest heard that a post mortem, by consultant pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri, found the cause of death to be cardiac arrest due to MDMA toxicity. 

Area coroner Jason Pegg read a statement provided by Melissa Damsgaard, who had been travelling with Miss Yates.

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The statement said: "On February 17, six of us in total went to the beach for the full moon party. We had a great time dancing together. I went back to the dormitory at around 11pm. Eleanor came back about two hours later. She said she had bought a hard drug from a woman at the party."

The inquest heard that Ms Damsgaard found that she had died.

John Yates paid tribute to his daughter: "Initially Eleanor was averse to travelling. We moved to India when she was nine and she kicked and screamed when we went somewhere exotic on holiday. 

"But she became more a more confident traveller as time went on. She had 50 stamps on her passport. She had saved up for her gap year for three years working at Sainsbury's. 

"However, the drugs she was doing while at college were a shock to us."

Mr Yates told the inquest that his daughter had spent about two and a half months travelling in Europe before moving on to Thailand. He said: "She was living her dream. She was fiercely independent."

Catherine Yates, her mother, said: "We were very disappointed with the investigation from the Thai police. They only interviewed people she was with. They didn't speak to the bar staff."

Concluding, Mr Pegg said: "I have heard that Eleanor was an extensive traveller. Based on the evidence, I am satisfied that the MDMA was taken by her, however the exact time cannot be ascertained. 

"The cause of death is misadventure. She intentionally took the drug, but the consequence was unintended. I offer my genuine and sincere condolences to the family."