The Bucks Herald

Wednesday, January 30, 2002



Inquest hears of woman found hanged in toilet at Tindal Rehabilitation Centre Unit.

Death tragedy of Patient

by Court Reporter

An Aylesbury woman patient at Tindal Centre Rehabilitation Unit was found hanged with her shoelaces in the toilet on her 35th birthday.

Bucks County Coroner Richard Hulett heard that Belinda Reynolds had attempted to hang herself just two days earlier with the same pair of laces.

Miss Reynolds was found hanged in a toilet at the unit at about 10.10 pm on April 14 last year, and despite attempts to resuscitate her, she died at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Nurse Emma Petrie told the inquest that at 8.45pm she had given Miss Reynolds her laces back as she wanted to go for a walk outside, and also gave her a penknife from the staff safe, to allow her to use the scissors in it to cut her hair.

She revealed that Miss Reynolds, who was a voluntary patient for depression in the Acute Admissions Ward at the centre, had an arrangement with staff where if she 'felt at risk', she would hand in the laces to staff.

Miss Petrie added: "If you don't feel there is a risk to giving a patient a belonging back, you don't have any power to stop them having it back."

However, after being alerted by patients that the toilet had been in use for a long time. Health Care Assistant Veena Padayachy discovered Miss Reynolds sitting in the toilet with the laces tied around her neck and attached to the door handle.

She and Senior Staff Nurse Gillian Brannon tried to resuscitate Miss Reynolds before an ambulance arrived at 10.45pm.

The inquest, at Aylesbury Magistrates' Court heard Miss Reynolds had made an attempt to take her life using the laces two days earlier, but had been found by Miss Petrie, who was doing her routine observation checks.

She told the coroner she walked into a dormitory in the Kimmeridge Ward of the centre, 'where Belinda had the laces around her neck and was crossing them with her arms'.

Miss Petrie said she sat with Reynolds and talked about the incident, and believed 'she was not a high risk patient' following the talk.

Miss Reynolds' friend, Alison Hewitt, told the coroner that she had visited Reynolds just hours before the tragedy had occurred, and had been concerned for her friend by red marks that she had seen around her neck.

She said: "I asked her about it, and she said she had tried to hang herself but one of the staff had stopped her."

Mrs Hewitt said her friend 'seemed very tired, and had been working very hard to try to be buoyant', when she had left her at 4 pm.

Miss Reynolds first entered the ward on March 5, two days after she had been involved in a dispute with a neighbour, which saw her arrested on suspicion of assault and taken to Aylesbury police station.

PC Terri Hiller told the inquest: "When she was arrested Belinda was very upset and very distressed and she was seen by a police surgeon who said she wasn't well enough to be interviewed."

PC Hiller believed the experience may have reminded her of when her older sister Lucy had been arrested at the same police station in 1985, before she committed suicide herself.

She told the inquest she had visited Reynolds on April 5 to talk to her about returning to the station, and said she seemed far happier about it than before, and went to the station on April 9 to give a statement.

PC Hitler added that she wouldn't have conducted the interview with Reynolds if she had believed that she wasn't well.

Dr Lesley Robertson, a consultant psychiatrist at the centre, believed that Reynolds was actually making a cry for help when she was found hanged.

She told the coroner that although Miss Reynolds hanged herself behind a closed door, she would have been expecting Nurse Brannon to be looking for her as part of her routine observations at 10 pm.

Dr Robertson also told the coroner that Miss Reynolds had told six patients she was going to take her life before the incident, and she believed that this was conducive with the hanging being a call for attention.

The doctor told the court that when Miss Reynolds made an attempt on her life two days earlier on the 12th, she had done it in a large dormitory where there was a good chance she would be disturbed, as proved to be the case.

The inquest heard that Miss Reynolds had tried to contact her friend, Mary Rouse, at 9.30pm, and had left a message on the answerphone asking for Mary Rouse to come and visit her on Sunday with her mongrel dog that she was looking after.

Dr Robertson believed this was not the behaviour of someone looking to end their life.

She acknowledged though that Reynolds 'was prone to impulsive behaviour and rapid changes of mind'.

Pathologist Dr Caroline Graham said that Reynolds had died of suspension by ligature

She added that the level of drugs and alcohol in Reynolds were low and around therapeutic levels, and wouldn't have played a part in the death.

The inquest was adjourned and will continue on February 4 at 10 am, in the Post Graduate Centre, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.