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Husband faces migraine inquest
Siblings Tamarra and Aaryn Donnelly with a photo of their mother. Picture: Guy Magowan/The West Australian

The husband of an Armadale woman who died after falling unconscious while sleeping off a migraine repeatedly broke down at her inquest yesterday, saying he wished he could have done more to help her.

Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker is investigating the June 2008 death of 54-year-old Linda Mulvaney, who could not be woken by her husband Tony after sleeping for more than 36 hours straight on her couch. The mother of two and grandmother died two weeks later in hospital.

Counsel assisting the coroner Kate Ellson said Mrs Mulvaney, who experienced headaches after a car accident when she was 16, had frequent migraines and took a variety of prescription drugs - including her husband's medication - as well as cannabis to help her sleep and ease her pain.

Ms Ellson said the four-day inquest would examine how it was that Mrs Mulvaney lay on her couch for so long before an ambulance was called. It would examine what drugs she took before she lost consciousness and how they may have contributed to her death.

A forensic pathologist found Mrs Mulvaney, who had been treated for accidental prescription drug overdoses in the past, died from "multi-organ failure following a decreased level of consciousness".

Mr Mulvaney told the inquest it was common for his wife to sleep for days at a time during a migraine. He was filming her sleeping on June 4, 2008, when he noticed her breathing was laboured, prompting him to call an ambulance.

The inquest was told Mr Mulvaney was filming his wife because he wanted to show relatives how she was during a migraine. Mr Mulvaney said it was "his failing point" that he did not call for help sooner.

He said he never gave his own prescription drugs to his wife, who was his carer, but was aware that she sometimes took his painkillers.

Mr Mulvaney said he could tell when his wife was entering a "full-blown migraine", which included vomiting, strange behaviour and hallucinations. He said the one she had before her death appeared no different to previous migraines.

The inquest continues.