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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sleeping pill Stilnox linked to murder-suicide

The Melbourne Coroner's Court has heard chilling details of how Anitha Matthew purchased cake, petrol and Stilnox before setting her Clayton South home on fire with herself and her two sons inside.


Today the Coroner's Court was told Ms Matthew's marriage to George Philip was in so much trouble she feared he was going to send her back to India without her children.

The pair had been fighting about her cooking. Mr Philip told police "sometimes Anitha would cook me a meal which I could not eat because it was too spicy, or too cold, or I did not like it".

The stove inside the house had broken so Ms Matthew was forced to cook family meals on a camp stove on the back porch.

In June 2012, Ms Matthew fed her five and nine-year-old sons the sleeping pill Stilnox, doused the house in petrol and set it on fire.

Neighbours desperately tried to smash through windows of the house as it burned.

Mr George did not speak to his wife for months leading up to the fatal fire and said it was to "teach her a lesson about her behaviour".

An expert professor told the court it amounted to psychological violence. Mr Philip protested that his marriage was not a violent one.

"I was not a forceful husband to my wife, I was quite accommodating," he said.

"I even allowed her to keep her maiden name."

Ms Mathew had been prescribed sleeping pills in the months before the fire, he told the inquest on Monday.

The pills were to treat stress and anxiety caused by a new job, though she was 'grossly overqualified' for the position, he said.

Final moments of fiery murder-suicide revealed in Melbourne court May 11, 2015

Woman threatened to kill family before fire 11 May 2015

The prescription drug zolpidem, sold as Stilnox in Australia or Ambien in the US, is a sedative-hypnotic drug for people suffering from insomnia but has been constantly linked to bizarre behaviour and deaths.


  • ▪ Zolpidem has been associated with adverse neuropsychiatric reactions, including hallucinations, sensory distortions, delirium, and amnesia.
  • ▪ Gender, age, concomitant use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and zolpidem dose are factors that may increase the risk of adverse reactions.
  • ▪ Patients taking zolpidem should be monitored for adverse reactions, and zolpidem should be considered as a potential contributing factor in instances of uncharacteristic, seemingly motiveless violence when accompanied by combinations of psychosis, amnesia, and confusion.

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