Mentally ill mum-to-be takes life on train track

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A PREGNANT woman who died after being hit by a train and dragged along the track took her own life, an inquest heard.

An inquest was re-opened on 17 July into the death of Stacey Petty-Mayor, from Albert Road, Rochford, who died at the foot crossing on Woodgrange Close, Southend on 23 October last year when she walked along the track and stood in front of a train.

The train then struck her and she was carried for 100m along the track.

The court heard that post-mortem results carried out on 29 October 2013 showed the cause of death as multiple injuries, killing her and her unborn baby. There was only a small amount of alcohol and therapeutic levels of prescribed medications in her blood, but the coroner noted there was “nothing untoward in those results.”

At 9.30am on 23 October, Stacey, who suffered from an undisclosed mental illness, entered onto the railway between Southend East and Thorpe Bay Railway stations.

The court heard from DS Paul Curtis, of British Transport Police Major Investigation Unit, who read out the account from the driver of the train.

He said: “I was coming up to the crossing, she stepped out and kept going. I was sounding my horn and she was looking at me. She was on the left hand side. She just walked out. I was blowing my horn. There was nothing I could do.”

DS Curtis added that the driver believed it was a deliberate act, with CCTV evidence showing that she walked “quite purposefully” towards the tracks, before bracing herself for the impact.
Investigations carried out on the train and level crossing both at the scene and after the event showed nothing was wrong.

DS Curtis concluded that there was significant CCTV to suggest she intended to take her own life, but no suspicious circumstance in the event.

The court also heard that CCTV from the previous week showed a woman about to step onto the track but changing her mind.

The coroner added that they could not be sure it was Stacey, who had a four-year-old son and fiancé, but her parents, Nicholas and Belinda Petty, confirmed to the court that they thought it could be.

The court also heard from Lesley Cullen, Lead Nurse for the serious incident investigation team at South Essex Mental Health Partnership. Stacey was a patient at the Willow Ward of Rochford Hospital, which cares for those with mental health problems, and was discharged the day before her death. She came under the crisis resolution home treatment and was given 28 days worth of medication and was due to be visited by social services the day after her death. The ward has since been shut down due to an unrelated review.

Stacey’s parents told the court that when they saw her after being discharged, they thought she was “not in a good way”. When asked why she was discharged in that state, the coroner concluded that it was a “clinical decision”.

Touching mainly upon the evidence of the driver, coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: “I have come to the very sad conclusion that she intended to take her own life and that she took a deliberate action, knowing it would result in her death. Even going there the week before perhaps – it’s all part of the picture.”

She then added: “I don’t always add something else but she clearly had mental health problems. I am going to add ‘whilst suffering from a diagnosed mental illness’.”

Turning to the family, she said: “She was a much-loved lady with a bright future in front of her as a mother. Seeing you all here shows how loved she was. I would again like to express sympathy to you for her loss.”

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