Minchinhampton woman doused herself in petrol to commit suicide
3:13pm Friday 21st September 2012 in News
A RETIRED company secretary who doused herself in petrol before lighting it had told her husband it was 'inevitable' she would commit suicide, an inquest has heard.
Patricia Hampton's death came 18 months after her sister had also committed suicide and just days after the 66-year-old had agreed to seek psychiatric help, the Gloucester inquest was told.
She burned to death on the patio of her home after buying petrol to carry out the act while her husband was out.
After hearing that she had bought petrol cans and filled them at a local garage that very morning, Gloucestershire Deputy Coroner David Dooley returned a verdict that she had taken her own life.
Mrs Hampton, of Cambridge Way, Minchinhampton, died on May 18 this year.
Her son in law Andrew Dellow told the hearing at Gloucester Coroners Court that she had been a very private person.
"Her sister’s death 18 months before had been a big shock and she was suffering from depression. We were all keen that she should get better and she was receiving ongoing treatment," he said.
"On May 16 my father-in-law David said she was behaving strangely. She had posted a valuable bracelet to a niece saying she wanted her to have it and this set off alarm bells."
His wife Rebecca went to her mother’s home and waited there for the doctor to arrive and prescribe her stronger anti-depressant tablets.
"She then appeared to be getting better and on May 18 said she was going to help at the Christian Aid charity shop where she had worked before," he said.
"She had seemed happy that morning and my wife thought the new tablets seemed to be working.
"Later Becky phoned me. She was hysterical and I could not understand what she was saying at first but then I heard that there was a fire at Pat and David’s house in Cambridge Way."
He went straight to the house to see a fire engine already there and an officer told him that a woman had been burned to death.
Mrs Hampton’s son Christopher said his father had gone swimming on May 18 and although his sister had seen their mother getting things out of the car at her home, she had not seen what they were.
When he went to the house after the fire, he saw two plastic fuel cans near the body. He told the inquest that in the week preceeding her death, she had told his father it was ‘almost inevitable that she would take her own life’.
"She seemed to believe that because her sister had committed suicide, all female members of the family would be likely to do so," he said.
Detective Sergeant David Shore-Nye said he had been told that Mrs Hampton started suffering from depression and anxiety when her mother died 20 years before.
"Then her sister had committed suicide and she had talked of refusing to eat because she could not go on any longer," he said.
When he attended the scene of the fire he said it was felt that it could not have been an accident because of the large amount (10 litres) of petrol that had been used.
There was also an empty bottle of red wine in the kitchen and another bottle partly consumed on the ground near the fire.
A small ring bound notebook had been found in which Mrs Hampton had been keeping a diary he said. It was entitled "Descent into Hell and/or Madness."
The inquest heard that Mrs Hampton’s depression had been treated successfully for many years with anti-depressants and she had also tried other techniques to help herself.
Summing up, Mr Dooley felt he could be sure of Mrs Hampton’s intent to take her own life because she specifically went to buy the cans and the petrol, and then took them to her home where she knew her husband was out and she was unlikely to be disturbed.