Leslie Phillips' wife driven to her death by depression

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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform