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Ann Barham-Clayton's body was found in the River Medway at Tonbridge after she went missing from her Barden Road Home, coroner recorded open verdict

A 75-year-old woman found face down in the River Medway suffered from severe depression and anxiety throughout her entire life, an inquest heard.

Ann Barham-Clayton was reported missing from her Barden Road, Tonbridge, home on September 22. Her body was recovered three days later.

A police search was launched after her husband, James , informed officers that she had not taken her prescription medication for the past three days and suffered depression in the past.

Ann Barham-Clayton suffered from depression and anxiety, an inquest heard
Ann Barham-Clayton suffered from depression and anxiety, an inquest heard

Local resident Geoffrey Fordham alerted police after discovering a body with no shoes on in a part of the river near Hunter Seal in Haysden Country Park.

Det Sgt Kris Eberlein told north west Kent coroner Roger Hatch that in the past Mrs Barham Clayton had suffered from severe depression and anxiety and had become agitated and sometimes threw objects around the house.

The evening before she went missing she had written a note about hating her husband’s mother and being in hell.

The court heard the retired shop assistant had previously threatened to jump in the river, but her husband never thought she would intentionally take her life.

The cats were dumped in Haysden Country Park
The cats were dumped in Haysden Country Park

That night she also demonstrated behaviour that Mr Barham-Clayton had witnessed before – she began throwing furniture around and on to the front lawn.

The court heard that after about four hours she calmed down and asked her husband if he was going to bed.

When he went upstairs it is thought Mrs Barham-Clayton, who had previously been sectioned in a mental health unit for a month, left their home and walked to the river.

A postmortem concluded the cause of death was drowning, and a toxicology report revealed the presence of alcohol, codeine and diazepam.

Det Sgt Eberlein said: “The toxicology report showed alcohol in her system, which the toxicologist said could have interacted with the drugs present and inhibited her balance. It was very difficult to tell whether Ann had walked into the river or fell.”

Coroner Roger Hatch recorded an open verdict at Gravesend Old Town Hall yesterday.

Tributes poured in for Mrs Barham-Clayton after her body was formally identified in October.

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