A mental health patient who was hit and killed by an oncoming train was seen lying down on the tracks by the driver.
Josephine Goodbody, 56, from Romford, was a patient at The Priory in Chelmsford last year after she was admitted to help with her insomnia and suicidal thoughts.
On the day of her death on October 22, 2019, Josephine packed up the things in her room at the hospital before she was heard saying she needed to use the toilet. She then reportedly left the site without going through the reception area.
It’s then believed she made her way to the train tracks near Pump Lane, just round the corner from the hospital.
Emergency services were called to the scene at 8.30am after she was hit by an oncoming train.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics and police officers, Josephine, known by loved ones as Jo, was sadly pronounced dead.
An inquest into her death was held at Essex Coroner’s Court in Chelmsford today (September 2).
It was ‘unavoidable’
Up until December 2018, Jo had been fit and well with no significant medical issues.
But by Christmas that year, Jo had caught the flu and it was in her recovery that she started having trouble sleeping, according to her husband Paul Goodbody.
On the day of her death, the court heard how Jo had been seen in the morning at The Priory. Jo had been heard saying she needed the toilet but then left the site.
Speaking at the inquest, Abigail Allen Lewis, British Transport Police fatality investigator, said: “It was a cross country train and the driver had just parted Chelmsford at 8.14am and was on the approach towards where the crossing is, where the bridge is.
“As he got closer, he believed he could see a person lying down on the tracks. He couldn’t avoid hitting them due to the speed of which he was travelling.”
CCTV on the front of the train showed that there was a figure lying on the tracks and there was no third party involvement or suspicion surrounding her death.
The court also heard from Dr Jason Lesley Taylor, a qualified doctor and psychiatrist, who had been treating her.
Jo was first referred to him by her GP on March 9 last year, and continued to see him a number of other times.
On October 7, Mrs Goodbody reportedly told him that she wasn’t coping.
“She had made something of a recovery and had returned to work on a part-time basis, but she was brittle and relapsed,” Dr Taylor said.
“She contacted me in October saying she had been having suicidal thoughts. She had had them previously when under the care of the GP but never acted on them.”
After this meeting, Doctor Taylor arranged for Mrs Goodbody to be sent to The Priory. She turned up three days later and was diagnosed with having a ‘depressive episode’.
He added: “Her main preoccupation had always been her sleep problems, she had high levels of anxiety and prior admission suicidal thoughts.
“She was willing to come and she wanted help.”
Dr Taylor said he had been frustrated by the initial lack of therapeutic help, which he said he raised with The Priory, as well as suggesting CBT therapy to help with her sleep.
Mrs Goodbody was also taking medication to help with her insomnia and depressive episode.
‘Drugs were messing with her head’
Paul Goodbody, Jo’s husband, told the court that Jo believed ‘the drugs were messing with her head’.
“She got the flu at Christmas, before that she was fine,” he said.
“She got the flu and literally as she was recovering from it, she couldn’t sleep. Literally three nights she didn’t sleep and she couldn’t go to sleep even during the day and it was making her really anxious that she needed to go to sleep.
“We tried herbal stuff, relaxation tapes. She would sleep one night then not sleep again a couple of nights.”
That is how it remained until Mrs Goodbody started seeing Dr Taylor.
Dr Taylor explained how Mrs Goodbody’s medication had been changed a few times depending on how she was responding to them.
At the time of her death, she was taking a sleeping tablet and some medication on a low dose.
“When I saw her husband on October 22, they were talking about going home and I tried to put my point of view that she had had suicidal thoughts before coming in,” he said.
“They were talking about noisy neighbours and huge plans to move house – active plans for the future.
“I felt she wasn’t well and hadn’t really progressed other than denying having suicidal thoughts.”
According to Dr Taylor, whenever Jo was asked about her suicidal thoughts in front of her husband, she would always deny them.
The court heard that Paul also wanted her to undergo hormone tests as he suspected she may be going through the menopause, having had a hysterectomy in the past.
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A post-mortem carried out on October 30, 2019 at Southend Mortuary by Conrad Woolf gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.
A “delightful lady”
Jo’s family described her as a delightful lady” who was “kind, loving, gentle and larger than life.”
In her conclusion, Caroline Beasley-Murray, senior coroner for Essex, recorded Jo’s death as intentional.
“I have read everything you have written and I have come to the very sad conclusion that she intended it,” she said.
“I’m satisfied it is more likely than not, she had found the intention.
“She had packed up her things in her room, the note he wrote and the method she used – she formed the intention and took a deliberate action, knowing as a capable and intelligent lady, that it would result in her death.
“Josephine Anne Goodbody killed herself whilst suffering from a diagnosed mental illness.
“She clearly was much loved.”