A woman who survived an explosive house fire had a willingness to die and offered nurses money to assist her, an inquest has heard.

Heather Bills, 64, died in Middlemore Hospital on January 2, 2013, six weeks after she was badly burned in a fire at her Orakei home.

The fire was deliberately lit.

However, she was pulled from the blaze by neighbours on November 22, 2012, before she suspiciously died in hospital following an "overdose" of insulin.


Medical experts have this week told the court that it is highly likely that Bills was injected with a extremely high dose of the drug.

She was not diabetic, nor was prescribed insulin while in hospital.

Her death has become the focus of a coroner's inquest over the next two weeks before chief coroner Judge Deborah Marshall in the Auckland District Court.

Today, Middlemore nurse Adrianne Steele, who did not treat Bills directly, told the court the grandma offered nurses money to help her die.

However, she didn't know the names of those nurses who Bills had asked, her witness statement read.

A pair of scissors were also found hidden under her mattress, Steele said.

More nurses, including those who treated Bills when her condition worsened, will be called to give evidence in the coming days.

No drugs or alcohol were found in Bills' system on her admission to hospital, but Michelle Maher, Bills' daughter, said her mum had suffered a long and "long and difficult mental illness".

"[She was] highly functioning and successful from the outside yet unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of life many of us take for granted," she told the court on day one of the inquest.

Bills was being treated at the National Burns Centre and the intensive-care unit.

Her condition was improving until late on Boxing Day, 2012 when she developed low glucose levels.

She suffered a massive hypoglycaemia-related cerebral injury which resulted in an irreversible and fatal brain injury.

It became clear that her death had been a result of higher levels of insulin in her body and was suspicious.

Bills' condition only worsened as she "trembled, groaned and gasped to her death" over the next few days, Maher has said.

Police have not ruled out reinvestigating three or more suspects based on the findings of the inquest, which continues.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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