Time spent: 46092 hours
RE:Brenda Leyland Inquest - Opinion from the Coroners Court Friday Mar 20th 2015
(Date Posted:21/03/2015 1:23 PM)
Coroner’s Court Inquest into the death of Brenda Leyland (Message edited by HiDeHo On 21/03/2015 1:51 PM)
Friday 20th March 2015
Senior Coroner Mrs Mason
All information to hand so able to proceed
Much interest and many issues
Court to decide who died, how she died, when she died and where she died.
Not part of this court to decide WHY she died.
Not ?? Article 2
Not to find fault or apportion blame
Running order -
Dr West statement
Detective Sergeant Hutchings
Ben Leyland statement
Jonathon Levy (Sky)
Interested persons -
Family, though not present
Dr West (pathologist)
Mrs Mason (coroner) read out the salient facts from the pathologists report. (Dr West not present)
There was nothing undue from the external and internal examination of the body.
So toxicology information is provided by Dr Smith - Mrs Mason read very quickly from a printed report referring to ethanol, citalopram, amytriptoline, paracetamol, Codeine
Death was due to asphyxiation due to helium inhalation and to citalopram (unsure of what she said further)
Dr Smith (toxicologist)
Standard tests were done on blood, urine and vitreous humor
Blood alcohol level in all 3 samples
68mg/100ml alcohol in blood (slightly below that which is the legal driving limit 80mg/100ml)
Found evidence of paracetamol, codeine, citalopram, antihistamine, amytriptoline +?? (couldn’t hear)
It was not possible in this country to test for helium
Urine sample - previous medication traced plus ibuprofen too. Level of 1859? Antidepressant - BUT after death the ‘drug’ is sequested into the organs and then may elevate the results compared to a sample prior to death. This may have contributed to her death at these levels but would not have caused it.
There were kidney function tests.
Citalopram was at a level that contributed to but not caused death.
Others were at the level for therapeutic use.
Helium analysis not available in the UK. Helium displaces oxygen. Loss of consciousness due to not enough oxygen getting to the brain. It is necessary to rely on circumstantial evidence available. Dr Smith confirmed it is known that large quantities of Helium can cause death.
Death was due to asphyxiation – part due to helium inhalation and – other medicinal drugs.
Detective Sergeant Hutchins
Brenda had a Twitter Account and made postings to do with the McCann family. 2210 tweets over a given period of time (??) and 424 (19%?) directly mentioned McCanns.
A third party presented a dossier to Met Police including these tweets.
When Q by Coroner he said – there was nothing in these tweets which would be a criminal offence.
LAWYER for Sky News interrupted here - was told by Coroner that there was no need to reveal that source.
DS Hutchins again ....
Brenda did not make any postings after 29th Sept 14 but -
Other people made postings to her account appearing after 29th. Brenda did not see postings so they couldn’t have contributed to her death.
Other enquiries into these postings are ongoing and outside of this inquiry
There were 2 other devices - an iPad with screen on self euthanasation using helium. Between 30 Sept and 2 October internet searches for suicide using helium. These were exclusive searches during this time.
Coroner's officer reads Ben Leyland, the (youngest) son's written report
Her death was on fourth of October 2015
Initially the family home was in Rothley (Reggie's note. Did I hear this right?)
Brenda was a social figure in the village and she had close friendships within that village.
She had a fractious relationship with one neighbour over a wall or fence. There were emails and conversations that had taken place. There was a verbal altercation with the neighbour and other neighbours and villagers had spoken to her about this argument. She was upset and embarrassed. Brenda didn't like to think she was disliked. This was approximately a week before the reporter from Sky visited her saying Scotland Yard had a dossier on her.
He suggested pursuing a legal claim and discussed how to prevent her picture being published. He called solicitors in London at approximately 1600 to 17:00 hours UK time. He returned her call that night and said his mum panicked and went silent.
He logged on to her account and she had put a picture of his dog and his location as LA on her account. He still tried to contact the solicitor and wanted to help. He felt the story would blow over. Ben also contacted his father that night to let him know of the situation.
On Thursday 2nd of October the story broke on Sky News. Ben had no success trying to contact his mother that day. He contacted a neighbour who had been asked to cat sit for a few days while she lay low. He thought she had gone to other family. An email contact said she felt cheerier.
Saturday 4th October Ben received a call from his father about the death of his mother.
It was said she had attempted suicide before, a number of years ago.
His report continues saying she was very happy in the village however she had struggled with depression over the years and had alienated people in the past. She had difficulty connecting with people.
She was undergoing therapy, with medication for anxiety and extreme bouts of depression.
She had struggled with health conditions, and had physical, untreatable health issues.
He heard panic and fear in her voice after the Sky intervention. It was the final straw. She was broken, weak and completely destroyed by what occurred.
Martin Brunt (Sky journalist)
The coroner said she had no right to compel a journalist to supply his source of information.
A dossier compiled by a third party came into Martin Brunt's hands. He was not willing to say where the dossier had come from.
Martin Brunt was asked how did he make the connection between the dossier and @sweepyface as she was not named and there was no indication of a name and address.
One of his sources told him that she was Brenda Leyland and Leicester(shire/area?)
Brunt said he had done basic Internet searches and found two Brenda Leylands in Leicester.
He linked a photo of a dog on her Twitter account with a picture of the same dog on her Facebook account. He was then to approach her on the basis that she was @ sweepyface.
Brunt and a cameraman were in a car some 30 yards away from her house. They waited outside her house so he could try to talk to her, that is standard practice. They were both sitting in a car and the first time Brunt spoke to her was around 10 AM. A car approached Brenda's house and stopped. Brenda's front door opened and she came out rather quickly and walked round to the passenger side of this car. Brunt left his car along with his cameraman, and walked up behind her he called his name and asked her his first question. When asked by the coroner he said it was quite obvious we were a team. Brunt was surprised that she did speak to him.
"Why are you using your Twitter account to attack the McCanns?"
Brenda turned and didn't really answer the question she turned to get into the car. Then she came towards Martin Brunt and said "I am entitled to."
Martin Brunt then said "Are you aware your tweets are in the dossier that's been given to Scotland Yard?"
She said "Fair enough."
Martin Brunt returned to his car and stayed in the village to shot some footage. He also did his piece to camera.
The car Brenda had gone away in now returned.
Brunt approached Brenda again as she went towards her front door with her key ready. Brenda said "Come in Martin." Brenda invited both Brunt and the cameraman into her house. She seemed relaxed and they had a half-hour conversation. The fact that she invited us in was a surprise.
Brunt told the court that she was clearly concerned about being exposed on television.
He said "We caught you on the hop." Brunt offered a more-considered interview in her home but she wasn't interested and they talked.
Brunt said she was at pains to explain why she was using Twitter.
She was concerned about the fundraising of the McCanns.
She was concerned that they left the children alone in their apartment.
She felt Twitter was a means to express opinions and she hoped she hadn't done anything unlawful.
Martin Brunt also told her that the police were consulting the CPS.
She said she wouldn't be using that account again. "Probably won't tweet again."
The coroner said no activity was noted on that account after 29 September.
Brenda asked "What would Sky do." Brunt replied they would almost certainly use the footage from outside the house. He asked again if she would do more.
He didn't know when the footage would be used. Brenda asked "Would Sky identify her?"
Brunt said he didn't know but it was likely that they would and Brenda accepted that. Brunt gave her his card and said if she had concerns to call him. He added "I hope I haven't ruined your day."
He said that the intention was to contact others [mentioned] in the dossier.
The coroner asked him about the process regarding using the footage. He said he went to London and spoke to Jonathon Levi and others.
Brenda rang Brunt on the afternoon of his visit asking if she would be identified (and when they'd be running the report?). He said he didn't know and that he'd keep her informed.
Brunt spoke to Brenda on the Wednesday night and explained what they would be doing. When asked by the coronor he said he hadn't detected anything in her voice at all. In the conversation she had said " Oh, I have thought about ending it all. But I am feeling better, I have spoken to my son in LA." There was a 10 minute conversation. Brunt said they wouldn't name her or identify the village. Martin Brunt had no serious concern about her (from her voice). She said it was a pleasure to meet you.
When asked by the Coroner, he said the suicide remark was a throwaway remark. There was no indication she was serious about suicide.
Martin Brunt had no knowledge of her medical background.
There was no further contact after that conversation.
When asked by coroner he said it was not his decision to run the story at all.
He was devastated at the enormity of what happened.
LAWYER for Sky then stood up and queried the dates of the conversation. She said it was the 30th September that 'the conversation' took place. The follow up took place on 1 October.
Jonathon Levy - Senior Manager at Sky News
He was informed on 22/9/14 by Martin Brunt's line manager of the story - by e mail.
He said he had not attempted to contact Brenda Leyland.
Ofcom and Sky News has editorial guidelines and they expect their journalists to operate within these guidelines.
It has to be demonstrated that 'doorstepping' / 'invasion of privacy' needs to be warranted. The method used was proportionate to the subject matter.
Martin Brunt's line manager and a.n.other made the decision to doorstep. Jonathon Levy was satisfied with that decision when he heard it had happened, and that the guidelines had been met.
A decision was chosen from three options about how to broadcast -
1. Identify Brenda and the village
2. No identity and to obscure face
3. Visually identify but not name her or the village and obscure the car number plate
They considered 3. the right option. It was not necessary to fully identify her and create a huge interest by others. They did not identify her and continued not to name her even when other media did so.
Brenda Leyland was contacted and J Levy was aware of the conversations.
Dr Z - Consultant Psychiatrist (he was not treating Brenda at the time of her death, but had seen her as a patient many years ago)
Brenda did have a mental health condition of recurrent depression and certain unstable emotional personality traits. He understood they were lifelong conditions. It would not be obvious to others that she had a mental health condition. She was a very private person with complex psychological endowment. She had very contrasting emotions and conversations.
Coroner asked - did she always have full insight into her conversations?
Dr Z - yes, she would understand consequences of her actions. In discussions I think she flirted with talk of suicide.
He said he was not aware she had tried to take her own life in the past.
I've noted "suicidal tendencies".
Coroner - "But the risk of serious harm is always there?"
I've noted "not aware of any actions; risk of serious self-harm".
Dr Z - yes. He described her as an extremely intelligent lady. Her reaction, could not have been expected by others. And with his knowledge it couldn't have been foreseen.
Coroner - her personality would be to trigger such events?
Police Sergeant Taylor
attended the call to a female who was dead in a hotel room
Saturday 4 October 13.50. Call to police to attend the scene at Marriott Hotel, Enderby
Also at scene was Police surgeon, First Response Paramedic
Sgt Taylor recognised the name of Brenda Leyland from the media reports and googled some information before leaving the station.
First Responder had been in to the scene and there were no life signs and Brenda was pronounced dead. Sgt Taylor knew then that this was the lady who had been in the media recently.
At the scene was an iPad which when turned on opened onto a site referring to helium.
The scene reflected the instructions on the IPad. There were 2 helium canisters about 30 cms in height each (I'd say 40cms). One by Brenda and one by the bed.
Sgt Taylor said these were easily obtainable. There are no regulations around selling them.
It is known that helium in large doses can cause death.
No notes were found in the hotel room or at the home address. No one had received a letter or text after her death.
Sgt Taylor was satisfied that there was no 3rd party involvement. All had been planned by her hand and actioned by her own hand. The events with the reporter, Martin Brunt, and the consensual meeting he feels was the catalyst to the events. The iPad and laptop were looking to a logical sequence.
Sgt Taylor knew of no opportunity that could have stopped the sequence of events.
I've noted a repeat of the who, how, where, when. I also noted the comment that Brenda'd been "upset by recent exposure to the media".
Brenda was an intelligent and proud lady.
It was clear who she was approached by and for what purpose. She was kept informed of the events and what would take place. She was given contact numbers.
I am satisfied that although she did have a mental health history others would not know she had mental health issues. She did mention she wanted to take it (her life) but she was cheerier.
Nobody was to know she would take her own life. There was evidence of research (about suicide) without anyone else knowing.
She bought the helium canisters and took herself to the hotel room. She had researched the method and the scene mirrored her internet research. There was no note left.
It was clear that the preparation was her own and there was no 3rd party. She had insight into her own behaviour.
The cause of death was
1b. Inhalation of helium
2. Citalopram intoxicity
Verdict : Suicide.
Finally, the coroner expressed her concern about the regulations regarding access to helium.
usertype:1 tt= 1
Create free forum and click the links below and your donations will make a difference here.
A Huge Online Store for Various Cool Gadgets, Accessories: Laser Pointer, Bluetooth Headset, Cell Phone Jammer, MP3 Players, Spy Cameras, Soccer Jersey, Window Curtains, MP4 Player, E Cigarette, Wedding Dresses, Hearing Aids, eBook Reader, Tattoo Machines, LED Light Bulbs, Bluetooth Stereo Headset, Holiday Gifts, Security Camera and Games Accessories and Hobby Gadgets.