The inquest into the death of Herefordshire student Rachel Whitear was dramatically halted yesterday as police followed up new leads.

A coroner in Exeter was due to begin summing up the case on the last day of the second inquest into the death of the heroin-user student.

But the week-long inquest was adjourned until today, allowing police time to follow up two separate lines of inquiry into the 21-year-old's death.

The body of the former Bath Spa University student was discovered by her landlord in her bedsit in Exmouth, Devon, on May 12 2000.

Stark images of her body slumped on the floor of her bedsit were released by her parents to illustrate the terrible consequences of drug abuse. However, questions have since been raised about the circumstances surrounding her death.

Coroner Ian Arrow told the inquest jury yesterday there had been developments, and called Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Howlett - who led the Wiltshire force's reinvestigation into the death - to give details of what had happened.

Mr Howlett said new information concerning the circumstances of Miss Whitear's death had been passed to him which, if it was true, was capable of influencing the proceedings and their outcome. The coroner adjourned the hearing until 1.30pm while officers conducted inquiries.

Mr Howlett said the information would have to be evaluated in order that the next steps could be determined.

When the inquest resumed in the afternoon, the coroner said Wiltshire police were following two separate lines of inquiry which meant officers going to two locations. He told the jury he hoped to give them an indication today whether he would be able to start his summing up.

If he was unable to do so today, he asked the jury to make contingency arrangements to sit on Monday.

It is understood a number of police officers are involved in the new inquiries.

Miss Whitear was found in a crouched position on the floor of her bedsit, holding a capped syringe in her hand.

The first inquest in December 2000 recorded an open verdict and no post mortem examination was carried out.

Following complaints about the original Devon and Cornwall investigation by her mother, Pauline Holcroft, of Ledbury,

Herefordshire, Wiltshire Police reinvestigated the death. Miss Whitear's body was exhumed in 2004 from a churchyard in Hereford to enable a post mortem and further tests to be carried out.

The High Court granted a new inquest in October last year, which has been held this week in Exeter.

Mrs Holcroft said: "Wiltshire Police are keeping us informed, but need to carry out further investigations. We just have to wait and see.

"We would rather have the delay than rush through and get something wrong."

Mick Holcroft, Rachel's stepfather, added: "After seven years, it's not a delay."

Mrs Holcroft said the couple would be staying for "as long as it takes".