A LANDLADY accused of staging a robbery in her South Tyneside club ended her own life, a coroner has ruled.
Kim Collins was found dead in her car in East Boldon Library car park, in Boker Lane, on June 15.
Ms Collins had been at the centre of a long-running court case in which she was alleged to have faked a terrifying late-night raid at The Big Club, in Station Road, Boldon Colliery, in June last year.
An inquest into her death yesterday, heard that the 43-year-old had taped up the vents in her car and released gas from a carbon dioxide (CO2) cylinder into the vehicle.
Sgt Philip Young, of South Tyneside police, told South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney yesterday that police were called to the scene by a man who had been walking his dog, who said there was a car parked by the library and that it appeared there was a body of a woman and two Alsatian dogs.”
Sgt Young said he arrived and the first thing he noticed were the two dogs in the back of the car. He said they were moving slightly.
He added: “In the driver’s seat I saw the body of a woman who was clearly deceased.”
He said that, once the boot was open and oxygen got into the car, the dogs stood up and jumped out.
Sgt Young added: “The vents of the car were taped up and medication blister packets were strewn throughout the vehicle. There were also bits of paper that I could only describe as suicide notes.”
Mr Carney told the inquest that one of the notes read, “CO2 gas, no autopsy please, I just want to go in peace. Thank you”.
He said the notes also made reference to her dogs, saying that she wanted to take them with her.
Police identified Ms Collins through her car’s license plate and a female officer who recognised her.
Inquiries later revealed Ms Collins had been referred to mental health services in the months before her death.
Mr Carney said: “The family had no indication, although she was stressed and worried, that self- harm of this nature would be on her mind.”
Dr Clive Bloxham, a consultant pathologist at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary, said that a level of the antidepressant Mirtazapine was found in her system.
It was a drug she had been prescribed. He said the levels were high, but not high enough to kill her on their own.
He said there was no apparent cause of death, and surmised that it was a result of the deprivation of oxygen and CO2 poisoning.
Mr Carney said: “She would not have physically suffered. She would have simply fallen asleep.”
David Pears, of the South Tyneside Crisis Team, based at South Tyneside District Hospital, said Ms Collins had been referred to them by her GP in March after she had attempted a drug overdose.
He told the hearing he had visited Ms Collins at home and that she appeared “warm and bubbly”, as well as “well-dressed and well-presented”.
He said that Ms Collins had spoken of “family troubles” in that her father had died and the fact she was not her father’s natural child and she felt isolated by the rest of her family.
He also said she was worried about the ongoing court case, but that he did not feel she was at risk of suicide or self-harm and that she had expressed embarrassment over her previous overdose.
He said: “My feeling was that Kim’s low mood was directly influenced by her feelings about her family and an ongoing court case. It’s what we call a reactional depression.”
Before Mr Carney drew his conclusions, a family member told the hearing: “The only thing we know is that Kim was very good at hiding her deep feelings.
“As for being ostracised from the family, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We were always at the other end of the phone.”
Mr Carney said: “This is a personal tragedy for the family and it causes me some measure of discomfort that we are making a public case of what is such a personal tragedy.
“My recorded verdict in this cause will be that she ended her life during a period of acute depression.
“I’m in no doubt at all that this was another episode of this depression that she had experienced months before.
“Undoubtedly, she felt that whatever the stresses and strains of her life at the time, this was the way that she could resolve her difficulties. It’s sad but that was her call.”
n Coroner’s finding: She ended her own life during a period of acute depression.