Riddle of woman's fatal window fall

MYSTERY surrounds the death of an Essex woman with a bipolar disorder who was found dead after falling out of a window.

Elliot Furniss

MYSTERY surrounds the death of an Essex woman with a bipolar disorder who was found dead after falling out of a window.

Susan Kearns, 51, had been “obsessively” cleaning her house in the weeks leading up to her death and her husband, who discovered her body, said the mental health service could have done more to help her.

Yesterday an inquest into her death recorded an open verdict.

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Giving evidence during the hearing, her husband Tony Kearns said he had told staff from the North East Essex Mental Health Trust - which is now the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust Foundation - about his wife's escalating behaviour.

However, he said she had managed to convince them that she was fine during visits to the family home in Falcon Fields, Maldon.

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The body of Mrs Kearns was found outside her home below a bathroom window on August 11 2006.

The inquest heard that she had eaten and drunk very little in the days preceding her death and had spent time digging in the garden and continually working around the house.

She had woken in the middle of the night and continued with her cleaning before locking herself in the bathroom, which had a small window.

During the inquest, at New Bridge House, Mr Kearns asked the Trust's Naushad Nojeeb why his wife had been offered little support other than a recommendation she join a “dog walking group”.

He said: “The summer of 2006 was extremely, extremely hot. Would you suggest that (dog walking sessions)? I thought it was stupid.”

Mr Nojeeb apologised to Mr Kearns and said the advice came from practitioner with 20 years' experience who had given consideration to the family's views.

Deputy Essex Coroner Dr Chinyere Inyama said he felt an open verdict was the “most appropriate” one to record as it was not possible to conclude whether she fell by accident or not.

He told the family: “That's not a cop-out - it's the most appropriate verdict. I extend the court's deepest sympathies to all of you here, especially family and friends.

“I hope the inquest provides you with some kind of closure and you can move on to the next stage.”

Last night, a spokesman for the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it took all incidents concerning its patients “very seriously”.

She said: “We extend our sympathies to Mrs Kearns' family for the distress they have endured.

“Highly experienced independent mental health professionals carried out a thorough investigation of matters surrounding this case.

“They confirmed that the appropriate care had been offered to Mrs Kearns.”

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