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Wrotham: Grandmother Joan Fleming fell to her death from first floor window

ByAnnabel Rusbridge-Thomas

A Wrotham grandmother who felt she was becoming a nuisance to her family plunged to her death from a first floor window, an inquest heard.

Joan Fleming's daughter found her lying on the patio at the back of her home in Wrotham Hill in August. 

An inquest into the 75-year-old's death, held at Gravesend Old Town Hall on Thursday, was told she suffered severe head injuries and died at the scene.

Gravesend Old Town Hall
Gravesend Old Town Hall

The court heard Mrs Fleming's mood was low after the death of her husband in 2004 which led her to move in with relatives.

Senior coroner, Roger Hatch, was told on the night of September 4, Mrs Fleming made up her bed with pillows to look as if someone was inside and left her room.

The next morning she was discovered on the rear patio. 

Detective Sergeant Ian McCarthy said Mrs Fleming was diagnosed with dementia two years ago and her symptoms had worsened significantly in the past six months.

"I can't envisage a situation under the circumstances where Miss Fleming would have accidentally fallen" - Det Sgt McCarthy 

"She was diagnosed with dementia and had spacial awareness problems. She was mobile but had problems with balance and fell quite regularly.

"The condition had worsened and a recent example given by the family was when she got up at three in the morning, walked downstairs with a plate and fell down and banged her head," DS McCarthy added. 

The court heard Miss Fleming felt she was becoming a burden on her family. 

Relatives said in the last weeks of her life she had given up and "lost her spark" and was almost in a daze.

DS McCarthy said his investigation revealed the steps Miss Fleming had taken in the minutes before her death illustrated to him she intended to take her life. 

"I can't envisage a situation under the circumstances where Miss Fleming would have accidentally fallen," he added.

However, senior coroner, Roger Hatch, said due to her dementia and state of mind he could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was an intentional act. 

He recorded an open verdict.

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