A WOMAN found dead in a drain had been worried about attending a medical appointment to assess disability benefits, an inquest heard. The body of Elaine Christian, 57, was found in Holderness Drain by a mother returning from a school run.
A post mortem revealed she had died from drowning, despite having more than ten self-inflicted cuts on her wrists.
The inquest in Hull was told Mrs Christian had been worrying about a meeting she was due to have to discuss her entitlement to disability benefits.
Her spiralling health problems meant she had to give up her job at Cooplands bakery in Greenwich Avenue, where she was described as a cheerful, hardworking and trusted staff member.
Her husband Robert’s model shop business in Holderness Road, east Hull, had recently collapsed, plunging the couple into financial difficulties.
As a result, the couple were being forced to sell Mrs Christian’s childhood home in Staveley Road, Bilton Grange.
Mr Christian told the inquest he had woken up on February 7 to find his wife of 28 years missing.
He discovered a suicide note, empty packets of painkillers and pools of blood.
Mrs Christian’s body was found in the drain – a 15-minute walk from the couple’s home – by Louise Spiterri, of Portobello Street, east Hull, who had just dropped off her daughter at school.
Asked by Hull and East Riding coroner Geoffrey Saul if anything had been troubling his wife, Mr Christian said: “She was upset about going to a medical appointment the next day.
“I can’t understand any of this.”
Mrs Christian’s death in February prompted police to arrest her husband, along with his brother Steven, who received a phone call at work urging him to rush round to the house.
He said: “She was worried about the assessment, but was never one to complain.”
PC Gemma Budd, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene, noted evidence of a poor attempt to clean up the mess, with the presence of “watered-down” blood in the kitchen.
Officers had noted how Mrs Christian’s husband had blood on his clothes, while his brother – who works at Coniston Garage – had dirt on his hands.
However, both men were cleared of any involvement after a crime scene investigation.
Antony Dickinson, a crime scene investigator supervisor, said close examinations of the pattern of blood on surfaces in the kitchen and shed ruled out foul play. He said it was likely Mrs Christian had walked to the shed to fetch craft knives in order to cut herself after she found a serrated kitchen knife was not sharp enough.
When this method also failed, Mr Dickinson believes she decided to walk the 500 metres to Holderness Drain.
Blood tests showed Mrs Christian had a “moderately high” level of the drug codeine, which is contained in the painkiller co-codamol. She was prescribed the drug last December.
Despite the presence of a suicide note, which was not read out to the court, Mr Saul said he was unable to say, with certainty, that Mrs Christian had intended to kill herself at the drain.
He said: “I have no evidence to show how she got to the drain. No one saw her there.
“Under emotional strain, on a February morning with the water level high, I cannot rule out she slipped into the water. This is a reasonable possibility.
“If she had have fallen in, it would have been remarkably difficult for her to have got out again.”
Katrina Dennis, manager of Cooplands, said: “Elaine could not have kids, but she loved them and would buy them treats when they came in.
“She was one of the nicest people I knew and had a heart of gold. Elaine was totally trustworthy.”
Mr Saul recorded an open verdict.