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Mary Lane who was found dead in Gravesend in April had laid undiscovered for five months

By Lynn Cox

The body of a mother-of-two found in undergrowth had probably laid undiscovered for five months, an inquest heard.

Mary Lane, who was from London, was found dead in a overgrown wooded area off Thames Way, Gravesend, in April.

Ms Lane, who was 53, had last been seen the previous November when she arrived in the town from the capital and withdrew £100 from her bank account.

A police car at the scene in Thames Way, Gravesend (5981640)
A police car at the scene in Thames Way, Gravesend (5981640)

She had also gone into the Boots store to pick up her prescription for anti-psychotic drugs, but was never seen again.

Ms Lane's remains were discovered on Sunday, April 22 and the inquest into her death heard she had probably been there since November.

Her body was spotted by Kieran Reeves, 25, as he walked home from work. Police and forensic teams spent almost a week at the scene near the Asda store.

Her inquest was held at Maidstone’s Archbishop’s Palace on Wednesday and her children, Thomas and Sarah, were both at the hearing along with other members of her family.

Coroner, Christopher Sutton-Mattocks heard evidence from DC Catherine Holmes from the major crime unit at Kent Police.

She had prepared a report into Ms Lane's death for the coroner and told the hearing Ms Lane suffered with paranoid schizophrenia and had been admitted to the Rosa Parks Ward at Lambeth Hospital, a mental health facility in South London, but had left there on November 12.

She was reported missing by staff, but her movements after leaving the site remain unknown.

DC Holmes said Ms Lane was thought to have used her freedom pass to travel to Gravesend, but was not seen again until her body was found.

Mary Lane's body was found off Thames Way, Gravesend (5981831)
Mary Lane's body was found off Thames Way, Gravesend (5981831)

The inquest heard she had a history of mental health problems and had attempted suicide on several occasions.

She had been living a flat in Lambeth but had given it up in September, making herself homeless.

It is not known why she came to Gravesend as she had no connection to the area, but had previously met her children at a contact centre in the town, which was near to where her body was found.

A diary, which had an emergency contact number for her cousin in it, and a bible was also found near her body.

Ms Lane was known to carry a bible but because she had gone undiscovered for so long she had to be identified by DNA samples taken from her children.

DC Holmes said: "She had not been in contact with her family after she left the ward.

"November 13 is the last proof of her being alive, so she could have been there (in the undergrowth) since then.

"She used her freedom pass to possibly get to Kent and withdrew £100 from a bank in Gravesend and got her tablets from boots but there had been no sighting of her since then."

Police ruled out any third-party involvement in her death and deemed it non-suspicious.

A post-mortem could not determine how she died because of her advanced state of decomposition.

However, toxicology reports detected a high concentration of the anti-psychotic drugs she was on in her liver which indicated she had taken a large amount of it before she died.

Her body had been discovered about five or six metres away from the path down a steep bank and coroner Mr Sutton-Mattocks said it was not surprising her body had not been found for several months.

He added: "No one will ever know when she died, so I will give her date of death as the date she was found, April 22."

As Ms Lane’s cause of death remains unascertained, Mr Sutton-Mattocks said he could only reach an open conclusion.

Mr Sutton Mattocks added: "There is insufficient evidence for any other outcome."

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