Drowning victim had long history of mental illness

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A BIPOLAR sufferer drowned herself after a long history of mental illness, an inquest has heard.

Retired nurse Jean Marie Smith, of Trinity Place, was found dead a mile-and-a-half out to sea, off Normans Bay, by a yachtsman on May 18, 2010.

An inquest into the 77-year-old’s death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday (March 24).

Coroner Alan Craze was told Ms Smith had attempted suicide when she was in her fifties and had asked a taxi driver to take her up to Beachy Head in the past.

At the time, the cabbie became suspicious and took her to Eastbourne DGH instead.

Her daughter Angela Fogg said, “We tried to speak to her often and we would come down to see her.

“She had grandchildren so we would come in the holidays. She hardly said anything when we came down.”

Health professionals from Roborough House – a day centre Ms Smith regularly attended – and the community mental health team told the coroner they did not expect Ms Smith to take her life.

Ash Bundhoo, the community psychiatric nurse who visited Ms Smith the day before her death, said, “She seemed cheerful and bright.

“She showed me her medication and she appeared to have been taking it.”

In the early hours of May 18 police found Ms Smith’s clothes, shoes and handbag near the Wish Tower on Eastbourne seafront and David Hall later discovered the body while out in his yacht.

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of her mind was disturbed and added, “She could have decided to take her life at any time.”

Daughter Angela added, “I don’t think she gave anyone any clues.

“I think she had been planning it for a very, very long time and just decided she would do it at that time.”

Angela and Ms Smith’s other daughter Karen Adams both received letters from their mother.

They also found, when clearing her flat, that she had made arrangements and efforts to put her affairs in order.