Top lawyer drowned herself, coroner finds

A lawyer drowned herself after struggling to balance the demands of motherhood and her high-flying job, an inquest heard yesterday.

Catherine Bailey, 41, a partner in law firm SJ Berwin, disappeared from her central London offices on 9 January.

Using mobile phone records, the police were able to track her movements to London's Blackfriars station and discovered she had travelled west.

Her body was found in the River Thames near Richmond Bridge, south-west London, the next day.

Half an hour before she was found she had sent a text to her husband, Neil Ashman, reading: "Richmond. I am so sorry. BK all my love to you and the girls. Hold them close."

Alison Thompson, the coroner, told West London Coroners' Court it was probable Ms Bailey, of Islington, north London, may have been suffering from post-natal depression. She recorded a verdict of suicide.

She added: "Ms Bailey was a very capable and professional woman and a loving mother of three young children who found it hard to meet the demands of motherhood and the high standard she had set herself."

The court heard Ms Bailey, who was born in Johannesburg, had drowned.

She had returned to work shortly before Christmas after giving birth to her third daughter.