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Sheerness woman died of overdose days after police mistakenly told her alleged abuser was released

A woman who accused her husband of hitting her died of a drug overdose just days after being incorrectly told by police he had been released from custody.

Denise Tanner was found by officers on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, after she could not be contacted following a bank holiday weekend.

The 52-year-old, of Nunnery Grove, in Minster, was discovered lying on her bed surrounded by empty pill packets. A post mortem examination showed she had taken a lethal dose of antidepressants.

Denise Tanner was found dead on May 8 2018
Denise Tanner was found dead on May 8 2018

A Kent Police witness care officer and her supervisor has misunderstood court documents and wrongly believed a bail hearing for Mrs Tanner's husband, James Roberts, has ended in him being released.

An inquest held at Archbishop's Palace in Mill Street, Maidstone, heard she was found dead four days later.

In fact, Mr Roberts had been remanded in custody. Her husband appeared in court accused of GBH and ABH on his wife as well as controlling behaviour and perverting the course of justice after allegedly persuading her to drop support for a previous allegation.

During a phone conversation with the officer, Mrs Tanner said: "I can't believe this has happened. You have signed my death certificate."

At an inquest into her death at Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone, coroner Katrina Hepburn said: "The evidence before me from her friends is that if she intended to take her own life she would have left a note.

"There was also evidence that days before she was seen to be upbeat and relaxed and thinking of the future.

Archbishop’s Palace, Mill Street, Maidstone
Archbishop’s Palace, Mill Street, Maidstone

"I have to bear in mind that taking such a large number of pills would have had a detrimental effect and may have caused her own death.

"However, it could have been a call for help, I don't know and I'm not satisfied she did it to take her own life - she may well have been taking it with the intention of feeling better. The evidence from her friends is that she was positive about going forward with the criminal prosecution."

Ms Hepburn concluded that Mrs Tanner's death was not a suicide but that it was a "drug related death."

The charges against Mr Roberts were dropped after a review of the case in June 2018.

Kent Police have since put in place a more strenuous system of checks to make sure people involved in court cases get correct information.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which looks into possible wrong-doing among officers found none were guilty of misconduct.

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheerness

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