A coroner’s decision to rule a journalist’s death as suicide has been branded a “scandal” by her family.
According to the Advertiser, her family “loudly protested” assistant coroner Ian Singleton’s verdict of suicide after they unsuccessfully argued she had gone to the railway tracks as a cry for help.
Kelly’s father John Stooke has called the verdict “a disgrace and a scandal”.
Mr Singleton had told the hearing: “The question of the conclusion is an emotive one for the family and one they feel deeply with their knowledge of Kelly.
“However, I have to base my verdict on the evidence I have heard. The area required a determined effort to reach by climbing over a barrier. She went away from the public eye and I don’t think she tried to draw attention to herself.
“Kelly stood in front of a train travelling at speed which would inevitably strike her. She intended to take her own life. I am not convinced that she had the intention to take her life when she last left home but something changed in that period of time before she walked onto the railway line.
“The root cause analysis report from Avon and Wiltshire mental health partnership indicated signs were missed but only in hindsight.”
However her father John Stooke told the Advertiser: “The family put a fully-researched and highly detailed assessment of the run up, circumstances and events which led to Kelly’s death.
“The coroner refused to admit this into evidence on the basis it was opinion. We are disgusted at the outcome but further recourse to law will simply drag out the pain and not bring Kelly back to us.”
He referred to previous cries for help which he said Kelly had done out of frustration with the perceived lack of support she had received from mental health services.
Her car had an overnight bag which Mr Stooke argued that she had packed because she had expected to be admitted as an inpatient to a mental health facility after her visit to deliver the letter, and she left no suicide note.
Train driver John Diller said in a statement that he saw a woman crouched on a concrete embankment looking in his direction around 2.10pm on the day of Kelly’s death.
Mr Diller said she then jumped casually onto the line, near Swindon, and walked into the train’s path as he repeatedly sounded the horn and braked,
Adding he was “one hundred per cent certain that her decisions were intentional”, he added she stopped and stared at him with her hands over her ears.
The hearing was told Kelly suffered from anxiety and depression after the death of her brother Corrie in 2003, which was at its worst after the birth of her daughter in 2014 but returned after the birth of her son in 2018.
She spent a number of weeks in mother-and-baby units and mental health facilities around Wiltshire, and had cancelled a mental health appointment on the morning of her death to go to her uncle’s funeral.
According to the Advertiser, Kelly’s family did not think anything was unusual and saw her in good spirits when they returned home from the funeral at 1pm.
She went to get some milk, delivered a letter asking for her care coordinator to be changed and then picked her daughter up, calling home shortly afterwards to ask her mum to collect her daughter instead because traffic was bad.
Her final call was to her husband Vikesh at 2.02pm, saying she felt unwell and wanted to know when he would be back from work, but he reassured her that he would be back in a few hours and encouraged her to stay in the company of her family.
Her mother Danusia Stooke said: “She had become despondent and thought that the agencies who were supposed to help her were losing interest and that she had been abandoned by them.
“However, there was no serious indication that she intended to end her life. No matter how bad she got, she always thought about her family and her children’s welfare, that was all-consuming for her and over-ruled the black thoughts.”
A statement from her GP said Kelly had expressed concerns about worsening suicidal thoughts which included stepping in front of a train, but stressed that she had no intention of acting on them.
Her care coordinator, who was unnamed in reports of the inquest, told the hearing that possible concerns over Kelly’s suicidal thoughts were, on balance, lessened by her excitement over plans for the future, her emphasis on the importance of her family and her not intending to act on these thoughts.