Coroner Calls in the Police and Halts Inquest

Care home death investigation


An inquest into the death of a woman who went missing from a Halifax care home has been stopped after the coroner found discrepancies in the reports of key witnesses.

The coroner received a number of differing reports from witnesses. He announced, Because there is such an alarming divergence of evidence, this will be referred to West Yorkshire Police for investigation into conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and perjury.

90-year-old Margaret Peggy Titchmarsh died after disappearing from Holme Dene Residential Home, Halifax, in January 2007.

Her body was found by police just a few hundred metres away from the care home. It was the coldest night of the year, but Mrs Titchmarsh was found wearing just a summer dress, cardigan and slippers. Her body was found 16 hours after she disappeared and she had died of hypothermia.

The case was adjourned after the statements of care home staff failed to match those given by independent witnesses.

Three independent witnesses reported seeing a woman matching Mrs Titchmarsh's description just before 5pm on the night she went missing.

However a number of staff at the care home reported seeing Mrs Titchmarsh in the home between 6 and 7pm.

Mrs Titchmarsh had been a resident at the home for approximately three years. During this time she had left the home on two other occasions, but had been found safely.

It is thought that Mrs Titchmarsh left the home through one of two back doors. Neither of these doors had keypad locks, despite previous risk assessments.

Joanne Ashley of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors said, A residential home should be a place of safety, where families can feel assured that their loved ones will be cared for and prevented from coming to harm. It is alarming to see that although risk assessments may take place, the vital steps are not being taken to ensure serious incidents such as these do not occur.