Son of horse racing magnate 'took cocaine' before death of his wife
Son of horse racing magnate JP McManus ‘took cocaine’ on night of partying before being ‘taken home and put to sleep on couch’ – then woke next morning to wife Emma dead in bed at their Barbados home, inquest hears
- Emma McManus, 40, was the daughter in law of racing magnate JP McManus
- The McManus family was in Barbados for Christmas and the New Year for a party
- The mother-of-three was found dead at the Sandy Lane resort on December 30
- An inquest into her death has opened by Island Coroner Graveney Bannister
Racing horse magnate JP McManus’s son John allegedly took cocaine on a night of hard partying before his wife’s sudden death in Barbados aged just 40.
But at the inquest into Emma McManus’ death, he denied telling a coroner’s officer he had been ‘doing a little cocaine’ at a party at their lavish home on the Caribbean island.
McManus admitted telling Island Coroner Graveney Bannister that they had been partying in the hours before mother-of-three Emma was found slumped in the couple’s bed at their home on the world-renowned Sandy Lane estate between Christmas and New Year.
Emma McManus, pictured, died in Sandy Lane, Barbados on December 30, 2020
A memorial service for the mother of three was held earlier this month in Barbados
An inquest into Mrs McManus’ death was opened in Barbados earlier this week
But he denied telling the coroner in a phone call that he had taken cocaine.
‘Nope that is incorrect,’ said McManus, who also denied having a ‘convenient memory’.
‘You said you had a little cocaine,’ Graveney told McManus.
‘Are you are saying I am making it all up?’
McManus, who was accompanied in court by his mother Noreen, responded: ‘I will stand here in this court room and happily take a test for it and prove that I am right and what you are saying is wrong. I did not say that.
‘I am saying you misheard. If that is what you picked up, you misheard and I would welcome to prove my innocence to take a test.’
Emma, daughter of former Irish tennis star and businessman Peter Ledbetter, was found by her husband at 8am on the morning of December 30.
The couple had been enjoying post-Christmas festivities with loved ones at the family’s private residence near the famous resort, co-owned by JP McManus, financier Dermot Desmond, and horse breeder John Magnier.
Police sergeant Robert Jones told the inquest at the island’s Supreme Court that Emma left her husband drinking in Sandy Lane’s Monkey Bar at 11.30pm the previous night and went home.
John McManus was ‘taken home’ around 4am and ‘put on a couch to sleep’.
He woke around 8am and went into their bedroom where he saw Emma propped up against pillows, ‘like she had been awake and had propped herself up’. She looked ‘lifeless’ but her hands were still warm.
He screamed for someone to bring a defibrillator and his mother, the wife of billionaire JP McManus, and a chef ran into the bedroom.
Emma was rushed to Sandy Crest hospital in Holetown, on the island’s west coast, where he was told ‘she was gone.’
McManus’s statement concluded: ‘She was not smoking anything and I don’t know if she was taking any narcotics.’
Mrs McManus was the daughter-in-law of renowned horse owner JP McManus, pictured
‘I was in a state of utter panic,’ McManus told the inquest.
‘I looked at her and I was like, “Oh my God!” and I jumped on the bed and I kind of slapped her in the face initially,’ he said.
‘I was never in a state of distress like that before.’
The coroner added: ‘You were so distressed that you even rang to coroner’s office, didn’t you?’
‘Yes,’ replied McManus.
‘And you spoke to an official in the coroner’s office and you wanted to know how soon you could have a burial for your beloved wife.’
McManus responded: ‘I wanted to considering there is a certain amount of interest from people on the outside. Also, I was hoping everything could be done in private,’ adding that his family was well known.
McManus, who has built a successful career trading in antiques, sculpture and art, and Emma married in Portugal in October 2010. They have three children under the age of nine. Their main home is in Chelsea, London.
Family friend Andrea Corr, of the traditional Irish rock band The Corrs, sang at Emma’s funeral on January 8.
Her husband told the service: ‘No words can describe the pain and sense of loss that I feel since my beautiful Ems passed away. She was the very centre of our family and the person who the kids and I turned to for everything.’
The inquest has been adjourned until February 25 pending the result of toxicology tests.
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