Mystery surrounds death of drowned woman

First published in News

AN OPEN verdict has been recorded on a 76-year-old Saul woman with dementia who was found drowned in a flooded ditch near her home.

Rosemary Woodward’s condition was managed with drugs so that she was able to live in her own home with the help of family and neighbours.

But she went missing on April 11 this year, and a police search discovered her body in the ditch not far from her home.

An inquest at Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court in Gloucester before the county coroner Katy Skerrett heard that Mrs Woodward had been suffering from advanced vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Her GP Dr Peter Spargo told the hearing that in October 2010 she started suffering from paranoid delusions but she was thought to be safe, thanks mainly to a next door neighbour in Passage Road who supervised her.

Her symptoms improved with anti-psychotic drugs and over the next three years she was regularly assessed by himself and by the local psychiatric team, he said.

Psychiatric consultant Dr Martin Ansell, from the team for psychiatry in older people, said Mrs Woodward had been referred to them in November 2012.

She was assessed by one of the community psychiatric nurses he said, who found that although she was suffering from paranoid ideas, the medication was controlling them.

She had a good degree of insight into her condition he said, and knew that the hallucinations she suffered from were not real.

She also had some memory problems suggestive of moderate dementia.

A CT scan had confirmed that she had both vascular dementia and Alzeimer’s disease, but she was deemed to have the capacity to make decisions.

Recording an open conclusion, Mrs Skerrett said death had been caused by obstruction of the airway by water, mud and vegetation.

But she felt none of the circumstances met the criteria for a conclusion of either accidental death or for suicide.

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