Woman found in the bath of her Sidbury home took her own life, an inquest heard

County Hall. Ref exe 04-17TI 5965. Picture: Terry Ife

County Hall. Ref exe 04-17TI 5965. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Linda Francis, 60, had been battling depression, loneliness and alcohol abuse

A woman found dead in the bath of her Sidbury home intentionally took her own life, a coroner ruled.

Linda Francis, 60, had been battling issues with depression, obesity, loneliness and alcohol abuse in the period leading up to her death on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

The inquest at County Hall, Exeter, heard that Ms Francis was found in her Greenhead home, submerged in bath water, fully clothed, with multiple cuts to both wrists.

Detective Sergeant Mark Oldershaw was called to the property at 3.45pm on April 30 and described finding empty packets of painkillers, along with notes detailing who to contact in case of death and songs to be played at a funeral service.

A post-mortem examination revealed the presence of several painkillers in Ms Francis’s system and concluded the cause of death to be polydrug toxicity and severe loss of blood.

Ms Francis, who worked at Fields of Sidmouth, went to see a GP on April 27, and the inquest heard a report from a Dr Riley that stated her comments suggested issues at work, poor self image, weight gain and alcohol use.

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She was prescribed with anti-depressants and referred to the depression and anxiety services.

Dr Riley added there was no past record of medical issues or attempts to self-harm.

Friend of 49 years, Barbara Hosker, said in a statement that Ms Francis had spent Christmas at her house for the past five years and had no close family. She described her as a ‘very private person with few other friends’, adding: “She would often call me in distress and would have periods of crisis and then be OK again and then get very low.”

The inquest heard that Ms Francis’s weight gain was having an impact on her life and she had had to reduce her hours of work, which exacerbated money worries. Ms Hosker said she last spoke to Ms Francis on April 24, when she had called in a ‘real panic’ and said she had pain in her feet and feared she was having a stroke.

The inquest also heard evidence from Elaine Sayers, who worked with Ms Francis at Fields. She described her shock at the news of her friend’s death, as the pair regularly socialised together and had spoken of going on holiday. Ms Sayers recalled a phone call in which Ms Francis had been worried she was going to have a heart attack or stroke and expressed a wish not to be resuscitated.

She added that Ms Francis had confided she had been battling depression and loneliness and was drinking two pints of lager and a bottle of wine a night.

Ms Sayers described how she had been worried when she tried to call and did not hear from Ms Francis again, so asked her neighbour to go and check on her. The next thing she heard was that her friend had died.

In summary, coroner John Tomalin concluded that, on the basis of evidence and the post-mortem report, Ms Francis took actions with the intention of ending her own life while suffering with a depressive illness.