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Mother Heather Johnson took her life after being a witness in court

By Annabel Rusbridge-Thomas

A Maidstone mother suffered harrowing flashbacks after being a witness in a crown court trial before taking her own life, an inquest heard.

Heather Johnson was found dead at her home in Barming on August 28.

Police were called to the property, in Fernhill Road, by a concerned friend who the 37-year-old failed to meet the previous day.

Heather Johnson who was found dead on Friday August 28. Pic: Shelly Allen
Heather Johnson who was found dead on Friday August 28. Pic: Shelly Allen

The-mother-of-one was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem found she had been drinking and taken a potentially lethal dose of the anti-depressant, amitriptyline.

An inquest into her death, held at Archbishop’s Palace, heard she battled with depression for many years, and previously took an overdose in 2001.

Senior coroner, Patricia Harding, was told Miss Johnson, who had recently split from her partner, had not made any attempts on her life since, but was taking anti-depressants.

Her GP, Michael Strachan, said during their last conversation, in mid July, she expressed feelings of stress caused by her part as a witness in a court trial. She said she was unable to sleep and repeatedly suffered flashbacks.

Phone and computer records showed the day before her death she’d researched overdoses. A 3am Facebook post stated she hadn’t slept in three days.

Fernhill Road in Maidstone
Fernhill Road in Maidstone

Detective Sergeant Richard Pringle said when officers arrived her front door was unlocked, but there was no evidence of third party involvement. Medical cause of death was given as alcohol and amitriptyline poisoning.

Miss Johnson’s mother, Annette, said: “She never said she would take her own life. The last thing we were talking about was the fact she had broken up with her boyfriend. She said that she was never going to get married or have her happy ever after. She was very worried about the court case too.”

Miss Johnson, who worked as an administrative assistant, grew up in Rainham and attended Rainham School for Girls before moving to Maidstone.

Friends and family paid tribute to her in the days after her death.

Her funeral was held at Maidstone’s Vinters Park Crematorium in September.

Miss Harding recorded a verdict of suicide.

If you would like confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 at any time.

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