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Great Yarmouth mother ‘did not mean to kill herself’, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 12:12 23 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:12 23 August 2013

Norfolk's coroner William Armstrong.

Norfolk's coroner William Armstrong.

Archant

A woman whose body was found floating in the River Yare near Great Yarmouth did not intend to take her own life, a coroner ruled.

Julia Snowling led a “chaotic lifestyle” and had seen her long-term mental health problems deteriorate in the months before her death in January, as she dealt with growing paranoia and fears she could lose her house because of ‘bedroom tax’ reforms.

A Norwich inquest heard on Wednesday that the night before her death, Ms Snowling told her daughter: “I won’t be here in the morning.”

But Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said there was “insufficient evidence” that Ms Snowling meant to take her own life, and that her warnings were likely to be signs of her depression than serious intentions to kill herself.

The 53-year-old of Beavans Court, Great Yarmouth, who suffered with bipolar affective disorder for 30 years and had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals several times, was found face-down in the in the water near Hall Quay at 8am on January 17.

Mr Armstrong returned a verdict that Ms Snowling had died as a result of drowning.

Her daughter, Chelsea, told the inquest her mother was “a loving, outgoing, bubbly” person, but that her condition had begun to worsen in November 2012, and she had gone missing for a day on December 13.

“She started getting paranoid, not eating, not drinking, not taking her tablets, thinking someone was out to get her,” she said.

Her mother “neglected” herself, she added, and would often say she would “not be around much longer”, including the night before she died.

“She said ‘I won’t be here in the morning’. I said ‘don’t be stupid’. I phoned her up when I got home, and that was the last I heard of her.”

Ms Snowling’s family had had serious concerns over her mental state, but her daughter said they did not realise they could ask for her to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, if psychiatrists agreed.

“I honestly wanted my mum to be sectioned but I couldn’t come out with that in case the worst came to the worst, which it has done,” she added.

However, Mr Armstrong said sectioning was “a drastic step”, and said the “substantial number” of support workers had no evidence she wanted to kill herself.

He added: “There do not appear to be any grounds for the compulsory sectioning of Julia.”

The inquest heard Ms Snowling did not always take her medication regularly, and had missed an injection the day before her death, though it was unlikely to have had a dramatic effect on her mood, said social worker Emma Wade.

“She was facing extra bedroom tax at that time and the possibility of a move to a smaller property, and I think that was causing her extra anxiety,” said Miss Wade.

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