Family of hanged girl reject verdict

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The Independent Online
THE FAMILY of a teenage girl found hanging from a tree after an apparent rejection by her boyfriend may seek to have the suicide verdict on her death reviewed, her mother's lawyers said yesterday.

The move came after the East Cornwall coroner decided Lindsay Andrews, 19, who was found hanged near her home in January, took her own life and was not, as her family believes, aided by anybody else in killing herself.

She had left a party after hearing her boyfriend ask another woman whether she would have sex with him, the coroner, Dr David Bruce, said yesterday. "This would have seemed a cruel rejection," the coroner said. There was "clear evidence of intent". Dr Bruce rejected arguments by a forensic pathologist appointed by the family's lawyers that the 4ft 11in teenager could not have climbed to the bough, nine feet off the ground, where she was found hanging.

"I find she died by hanging and return a verdict that she killed herself," Dr Bruce said. The police and a Home Office pathologist had found no evidence of anyone else being involved.

The coroner said a picture had emerged of a lively and popular young woman, who had obtained a college place to study art. But in 1996 she had taken a small amount of paracetamol and superficially cut a wrist after the breakdown of a relationship. That had been unlikely to cause death and did not represent a suicide attempt, Mr Bruce said.

But Dr Guyan Fernando, a Home Office pathologist, told the inquest that people who made such gestures sometimes went on to make serious suicide attempts.

Barry Richardson, an independent forensic scientist, who gave evidence for the family, had concluded her hanging must have been assisted by at least one other person, as she would have been severely affected by drink.

But the coroner said Mr Richardson had no qualifications in the field, had no experience and did not have the knowledge he could have obtained from visiting the scene.

Miss Andrews' mother, Patricia, cried as the verdict was announced. "I still do not believe she did it on her own," she said afterwards. She had revisited the scene in Torpoint to test the police theory that her daughter could have climbed a bank and reached to tie the knot on the bough one-handed. "I still cannot see how she reached that branch she was hanging from," she said.

Ian Wills, the family's solicitor, said: "Lindsay's mother and family have fought hard to establish the true circumstances surrounding her death. Some questions have been answered, some have not."

He was considering whether to recommend the decision be reviewed in a divisional court.

The inquest in Bodmin had heard that Miss Andrews had drunk cocktails, lager, cider and rum and smoked cannabis on the day of the party, 8 January.

She was involved sexually with John Linggard and had gone to his party and had sex with him.

Later, she heard him ask another woman to sleep with him. Miss Andrews left minutes later, returned for her scarf and then left again, slamming two doors. She was found dead by passers-by.