Leslie Phillips' wife driven to her death by depression

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A former Bond girl who was the wife of comic actor Leslie Phillips died after drinking a drain cleaner containing 91 per cent sulphuric acid.

Angela Scoular had battled for years against manic depression and alcoholism, and in the weeks before she died feared the bowel cancer she had undergone radiation treatment and chemotherapy to beat had returned.

Her husband served her breakfast in bed on the day she died and she gave him no indication that day that she wanted to kill herself, though she had made at least one previous attempt, an inquest heard.

The actress, who played Ruby Bartlett in the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, found a bottle of One Shot drain cleaner and swallowed some of the contents.

She ran outside, poured more of the highly corrosive liquid over herself and slipped down the steps of their house in Maida Vale, London, fracturing several bones, including her spine.

Mr Phillips thought his wife was still in her bedroom and was only alerted to her plight when a neighbour heard her calling for help as she lay sprawled on the ground covered in blood and acid. He rushed outside and tried to help her by pouring water over her burns.

Ms Scoular, 65, was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead two hours later, at 5.34pm on 11 April. She had suffered severe 40 per cent burns to her throat, lungs and dietary tract, which were described as unsurvivable.

The coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, recorded a verdict of "killing herself while the balance of her mind was disturbed" at Westminster Coroner's Court yesterday.

Ms Scoular's son, Dan, who was born before she met Mr Phillips, attended the hearing and was told by the coroner: "She was clearly an extraordinary woman and also a successful actress who battled her whole adult life with very, very debilitating mental health, which unfortunately defeated her in the end."

Mr Phillips was too ill to attend the inquest but said in a statement read to the hearing that when he saw his wife of 35 years crumpled at the bottom of the steps outside she was in "a shocking state". He acknowledged that she had been an alcoholic for many years but said she had not had a drink on the day she died. He doubted she could have mistaken the drain cleaner for anything else and added that she had not talked about committing suicide for some time.

He said: "Angela had been an alcoholic since I met her. She did stop drinking from time to time but would return to drinking. She was a nervous type of person, not confident. But she was a kind, generous person who would help me with my work and I would help with hers. She was lovely when she was sober."

Ms Scoular's career included a starring role in The Avengers; she appeared as Cathy in a BBC version of Wuthering Heights in 1967; and played Buttercup in the spoof Bond film Casino Royale.

In the weeks leading to her death she had been worried that the cancer she thought she had beaten had returned, and about debts. She had also been taking too much medication for her bipolar disorder.