Pregnant mum died from a 'broken heart'

A PREGNANT mum who sparked a nationwide police hunt when she went missing with her two sons died from a “broken heart” after she lost custody of her children, an inquest has heard.

James Hore

A PREGNANT mum who sparked a nationwide police hunt when she went missing with her two sons died from a “broken heart” after she lost custody of her children, an inquest has heard.

Depressed Louisa Vowles was three months pregnant when she fled with her sons Zach, seven, and Logan, six, from their Chelmsford home in October 2004.

But after being found in Dorset the tragic mum was arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill and was later charged with sending a hoax text message implying she was going to do “something stupid”.

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Ms Vowles, who went on to miscarry her baby, was later cleared at court.

An inquest in Chelmsford yesterday heard Ms Vowles, 27, died at her home after taking pills and alcohol and slashing a major artery in April 2006.

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Her mother, Beverley Bray, said her troubled daughter died of a broken heart.

Speaking after the inquest at Chelmsford Coroner's Court, Mrs Bray, a mother-of-six, said her daughter suffered from bouts of severe depression and lost the will to live when she was arrested and her sons were taken from her.

She said: “She went downhill after that. She did not get the help she needed - she never wanted to kill herself it was a cry for help.

“When they took away the children they took away the only thing that kept her going.

“I was grateful to the police (for finding her) but I think it was blown completely out of proportion, she was unstable and the last place she should have been was in court.”

Ms Vowles sparked the police hunt after she vanished from her home with a two-month supply of anti-depressant drugs after picking her two sons up from school.

Police said she was depressed and upset over problems with her home and concerns grew when Ms Vowels sent a text message to her partner which said: “I was going to give the boys a few good days of fun and then do something very stupid. I will not let the boys feel pain.”

Days later she was discovered in a hotel in Bournemouth when the owner tipped off police after seeing her picture in a newspaper.

In February 2005 she stood trial charged with sending a false message which would cause alarm or distress but was cleared because the judge said the text message was ambiguous.

And speaking after the case at Witham Magistrates' Court she criticised the police.

She said: “I needed someone understanding to sit down with me to talk things through, I needed help not to be charged and treated like a criminal.

“I can understand they (the police) were annoyed with me disappearing and the upset it must have caused people. The search must have cost a lot of money.

“This has made my problems more difficult. It's made me really wary about what I say to people or what I write down. I am bottling things up because I'm worried if I say how I'm feeling it will get me into trouble.

“I love my boys, they are the most precious thing in the world and it hurts me that people thought I could even think about hurting them.”

Mrs Bray, who lives in Writtle, near Chelmsford, echoed the view and said that although her daughter had seen dozens of doctors and been sectioned a number of times no one could diagnose what was wrong with her.

She added: “She came across as being normal most of the time. She was a wonderful mum, her house was immaculate, she was so well organised she bought Easter eggs at Christmas, she sent 'thank you' notes, she had really good manners.

“When the boys were younger she was really happy but then she had these episodes where she was really down, she used to say to me 'It's so hard to live, the pain of just doing everyday things'.

“She lost her boys because she sent a stupid text message and ultimately she lost her life too.”

Tragically, after the court case she pushed her family away from her and sunk deep into depression.

The inquest heard how Ms Vowles phoned her partner Tim Andrews, a transvestite, on April 8 2006 saying she had cut herself.

Paramedics rushed to the scene found she had slashed a major artery in her arm and pronounced her dead at the scene.

A post mortem examination discovered traces of a number of drugs in her system along with 221mg of alcohol - almost three times the drink drive limit.

Police enquiries showed there were no suspicious circumstances involved.

Her cause of death was given as adverse effects of alcohol and drugs and an open verdict was recorded.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “I'm not satisfied she intended to take her own life on this occasion.

“There is not enough evidence to show it was an accident, and in this case I shall record an open verdict.”

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: “Police arrested Louisa Vowles after she was found by police in Dorset following being reported missing with her two children from Essex.

“Her arrest was necessary to investigate allegations of threats to kill as well as to ensure the safety of her children.

“Police charged her with an offence under the Communications Act 2003 and she appeared before magistrates on October 20, 2004.

“The purpose of an arrest is to either eliminate that person from an investigation, or establish whether they are implicated in any way, as part of a thorough investigation.”

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