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US-born heiress clutching a cocaine pipe when found dead in London home, coroner says

Dave Benett / Getty, file

Eva Rausing and her husband Hans Kristian Rausing appear at an event in 2010.

LONDON -- The American wife of one of Britain's richest men, whose body lay rotting at their London home for two months after her death, died from cocaine abuse, a coroner said Friday.

Eva Rausing, whose husband Hans is heir to a fortune from the Swedish packaging firm Tetra Pak, was found in July in an advanced state of decomposition under layers of clothes and garbage bags in a fly-infested room on the second floor of their six-story townhouse in an upmarket area of London.

The 48-year-old's body was only discovered after police officers went to their house after stopping her husband for driving erratically.

Multi-millionaire Rausing pleads guilty to preventing US-born wife's burial

She was found holding a silver foil, which had been rolled up as a pipe, indicating it had been used for smoking cocaine. A post-mortem established that she had died more than two months earlier in May.

Deputy coroner Shirley Radcliffe ruled that Rausing, who suffered from the heart condition tricuspid valve disease and had had a pacemaker fitted, had died from cocaine intoxication.

Husband 'devastated'
Hans Rausing, who was given a suspended 10-month jail sentence in August for preventing the "lawful and decent" burial of his wife, said he had not been able to deal with losing her.

"I'm devastated by my beloved wife's death," he said in a statement read to Westminster Coroners' Court. "I could not cope with her dying or confront the reality of her death."

He said he had been in the bathroom shaving when he heard her slide off the bed.

Police struggle to shed light on US-born heiress' death

"She landed sideways and her head was resting on a pillow. I tried to pull her up. I shouted 'Eva, Eva, Eva,'" he said, before covering her body with blankets and bedding.

The couple, who have four children, had a long history of problems with drugs. They first met at a U.S. rehabilitation center and gave generously to addiction treatment centers.

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Eva Rausing's family has said it believed she turned to drugs in her late teens to overcome acute shyness.

The Swedish Rausing family made a fortune by building up the Tetra Pak drinks packaging business, but Hans' father sold his share of it to his brother in the 1990s, and is now worth an estimated $10 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

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