A woman who took her life left a note blaming her flower seller boyfriend, who was himself stabbed to death in the street months later, an inquest has been told.
Alicia Callaghan, 43, was found hanging by partner Tony Eastlake, whose death is now subject to a murder probe.
Poplar Coroners’ Court heard that after her death the girlfriend of Mrs Callaghan’s son found a note in her belongings saying: “I’m doing this because of Tony Eastlake”.
A statement given by Mr Eastlake in the wake of Ms Callaghan’s death was read out at her inquest.
The flower seller said the couple had argued because she had received abusive texts from his ex-wife.
Alicia said she was going to bed just before midnight and went upstairs but when he went up to join her he found her hanging.
He said: “Alicia Callaghan was my girlfriend.
“I was made aware Alicia had received a text message from my ex-partner. These messages were abusive towards Alicia and there had been messages texted back as well.
“Alicia’s mood appeared to worsen over the next couple of hours. She had been consuming alcohol but nothing out of the ordinary.
“At approximately 11.45pm she went to the top floor of the premises, she said her goodnights and went upstairs.
“Approximately 15 minutes later I went upstairs to talk to her, and as I walked out of the living room, I saw her hanging from the bannister.”
He said he took her down from the stairs, placed her on the living room floor and he called for an ambulance and claimed to give CPR, although a police officer later gave a statement that he had not seen him administer CPR.
Mr Eastlake continued: “Alicia was still struggling with her father’s passing and her mother having dementia.
“I had been in a relationship with her since October 2020. The relationship, in general, was all in order but there had been some outside influences affecting her.”
Police Constable Michael Morrison, who attended the scene at around 12.20am, said: “The door was opened by Tony Eastlake.
“He led up two flights of stairs where a woman was lying on her back in the doorway. Mr Eastlake had not started CPR. He sat down in the living room. He was visibly upset and crying.
“Mr Eastlake said he had last seen her 15 to 20 minutes prior to the call to London Ambulance Service.
“I left the room to check the rest of the property.
“While I was upstairs, I heard Mr Eastlake shout, ‘No! No!’ I believe this was at the time Ms Callaghan’s death was verified.”
Officers later declared the scene non-suspicious at 2.34am.
Klaudia Le Xuan, the girlfriend of the only son of Ms Callaghan, said in a statement: “I’ve known her for many years so I went with others to her house to help start packing the house up.
“I chose to go through the paperwork as I knew where she kept all her paperwork. It was under the sofa seat that I found a note which read, ‘I’m ending it because of Tony Eastlake’.”
Giving live evidence in person at Poplar Coroner’s Court, she continued: “It looks very rushed to me but there are parts of her handwriting that very much look like it to me.
“Of course I was going through all the paperwork so it all looked similar. It was where all her paperwork was and she only disclosed that information to a few people.”
Ms Callaghan’s cousin, Maria Czerska, disputed it was her handwriting in court although the coroner said, on the balance of probabilities and of where it was found, it was very likely to be written by her.
Senior Coroner Mary Hassell said: “It seems likely to me that Ms Callaghan did write the note not just because of the handwriting which I appreciate is in dispute but because of the place of where it was found.
“I can’t tell even if she did write the note, when she wrote the note.
“I think it is unlikely she would have written it that evening and put it in that place and then went on to do what she did.
“I don’t think the note is relevant to what happened that evening in particular. I think if she wrote it, I don’t think she wrote it then.”
A toxicologist analysed her blood, urine and stomach contents and detected alcohol levels at 217mg per decilitre which would have caused a high level of drunkenness and the stomach tested positive for cocaine consistent with recreational use.
The urine also showed cannabis use at the time of her death.
A post-mortem examination said there were no suspicious marks of a third party and her injuries were consistent with the self-inflicted act of hanging.
Her GP and a clinical psychologist also gave a statement to the court to say Ms Callaghan had a chronic risk of self-harm, a history of overdose, had been in a previous abusive relationship and was suffering from the stresses of her mum’s health deteriorating.
Dr Neelesh Bowry said: “It was felt Ms Callaghan suffered from emotionally unstable disorder, suffered complaints from her neighbours, was stressed about her mum’s illness and there was an ongoing risk of self-harm.”
Ms Le Xuan spoke about her frustration that it was left to Mr Eastlake to speak to her boyfriend about the death.
She said: “I just find it very bizarre with all the ambulance crews and the police officers at the scene, he had not been contacted by anyone.
“No professional help was offered. No one had said anything to him. It’s a bit bizarre that someone’s mum died and you don’t hear anything from the police.”
The Coroner said while she cannot speak for the police, she said: “I would imagine it is because her then-partner was on the scene and knew about the death.”
In her determination, she gave a medical cause of death as suspension by ligature but chose not to make a ruling of suicide as the “intentions in this are unclear”.
Ms Hassell said: “Given all of the circumstances I am satisfied she hanged herself.
“To make a determination of suicide, the second element is that I must find on the balance of probabilities that she intended to end her life.
“Generally speaking hanging oneself is a very deliberate act. Generally speaking, most people do intend to end their own life.
“I do have some doubt here.
“It is entirely possible that in the middle of a very heated argument Ms Callaghan went upstairs and hanged herself with the intention of being found by Mr Eastlake. This may have been part of the argument.
“I do have sufficient doubt that prevents me from saying that she did intend to end her life.
“I just don’t know what her intention was.
“She might easily have expected him to hear something and cut her down.”
She concluded: “I make a determination that Alicia Callaghan hanged herself at home late on the evening of 31 March 2021, early in the morning 1 April 2021. Her intentions in this are unclear.
“I just want to say how sorry I am to you all for your loss.”
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