Published: 18:51, 11 January 2021
| Updated: 20:04, 11 January 2021
The GP of a mum who drowned her children in the bath says she was "calmer and more focused" when he spoke to her five days before the tragedy.
But lawyers for Samantha Ford, who killed twins Chloe and Jake at her Margate home on Boxing Day 2018, say he missed a vital letter and information which painted a severe picture of her mental state.
The details emerged during an inquest into the deaths of the children, who were aged just 23 months old, which will examine all aspects of Ford’s interactions with healthcare professionals before her horrific crime.
At the hearing, which started today, it was heard the mum was struggling with her marriage breakdown to estranged husband Steven, but had shown no worrying signs when she spoke to her GP, Dr Rob Immelman, from Charing Surgery, asking for another prescription on December 21 for anti-depressant mirtazopine.
However information which was "at his fingertips", according to Ford's lawyer Brenda Campbell QC, showed the mother had frequent suicidal thoughts and raised concerns for her safety.
A letter from Insight Healthcare, which provides mental health services, was written on December 14 about her state of mind and sent to the surgery but not read by Dr Immelman before he spoke to Ford.
Dr Immelman said despite her being agitated when a locum GP saw her the previous month, she did not seem distressed during his telephone consultation on December 21.
"She seemed to be on a calmer and more focused footing and had made the call to us for more medication," he said.
"During the conversation I was given no impression that she was struggling with her mental health.
"There was nothing in her tone or manner that made me concerned.
"There were no concerns expressed about her children at all and I ascertained she was being supported by her family, and staying with her parents."
He gave her a prescription and numbers for mental health services when she inquired about counselling.
But Ford's lawyer said there was a letter and information setting out red flags which the GP could have read on her notes beforehand.
That same day, a further urgent letter was sent by Insight to Charing Surgery raising concerns they had not been able to contact Ford and setting out worries about her mental state and her thoughts of ending her life.
This was looked at by someone at the surgery on Christmas Eve and forwarded to Dr Immelman who was not in work until December 27, the day after the twins died.
During the hearing, it was heard Ford wasn't sleeping, had thoughts about ending her life and was struggling to look after the twins.
But in a statement, Mr Ford, to whom she had been married for 10 years, said he had had no serious concerns about her mental health.
'I had no serious concerns about her mental health...'
The couple, who moved back from Qatar in 2018 after having the twins by IVF, separated in August 2018 when she asked him to move out, before then begging him to come back.
The inquest was told she would not accept his explanation for the relationship breaking down and was using "emotional blackmail".
Devastated dad Mr Ford said he nor anyone else, including Ford's own family, had thought her mental state severe and had he had serious concerns, he wouldn't have left the children with her.
During a trial at the Old Bailey in 2019, Ford's actions were described as a twisted act of vengeance against her estranged husband.
She was also described as a narcissist by a psychiatrist, and it was said she was fixated on getting him back.
After he refused, she warned him in one message: “If this continues it’s going to lead down a horrible path.”
She also Googled how to drown someone in the weeks before she killed the twins and made chilling searches on the day of their death.
She admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and was jailed for 10 years for killing the children.
At the inquest, Ms Campbell, while questioning Dr Immelman, says her client was suffering frequent suicidal thoughts.
She asked why a letter and notes showing Ford's interactions with out-of-hours service NHS111 and Insight had not been seen, which she says would have shown the extent of Ford's mental health problems.
Dr Immelman admitted that had he read the letter from Insight, the consultation with Ford would have taken a different route, focusing on her mental health and risks to her.
During proceedings, it was heard her parents, brother and sister had been concerned about her and were doing what they could to help her.
A statement read out said she had been staying with her parents so they could look after her "24/7" and that she was becoming more desperate for Mr Ford to come back to her.
They said she was having trouble sleeping and asking for pictures of the children and she was "not the Samantha they knew".
Facts of the case were read out by coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks who revealed the final moments before she killed her "miracle" babies on December 26.
He said at 12.30pm the maternal grandparents took them to their mother and at 6pm they then went to do food shopping.
At some time between 6.25pm and 6.52pm, Ford held the children under the water in the bath, then dressed them in nappies and baby grows, and wrote a note saying "please forgive my crazy mind".
She then drove to Beachy Head where she stayed for some time before attempting suicide by driving into the back of a lorry on the A299 Thanet Way.
The inquest, which is expected to run for six days, will consider whether the responses of healthcare professionals were appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances and whether proper reliance was placed upon, and followed, of the relevant policies and procedures in place at the time.
The Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, NHS 111 service and Ford’s GP surgery have been named as interested parties and will be called to give evidence about their care for Ford.
The hearing continues.