Uncertainty surrounds death of Northumberland mum, coroner rules

Sally Allan

Sally Allan

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The circumstances leading to the death of a loving Northumberland mum whose body was found in a river will never be certain, a coroner ruled today.

Sally Allan, 59, went missing from her home in Ponteland on Boxing Day. Her body was recovered from the Tyne near Riverside Quay at Tyne Dock West in South Shields on February 3.

Today, coroner Terence Carney recorded an open conclusion into her death. The inquest heard how CCTV images and witness reports suggested that mum-of-three Sally walked for 11 miles before she most likely entered the Tyne, east of the Swing Bridge.

Forensic pathologist Dr Peter Cooper said that the cause of death was ‘consistent of drowning’ and there had been no evidence of any third party involvement.

Despite the family finding a note in Sally’s handbag, following her disappearance, it was impossible to say when it had been penned.

The note read “I am sorry, I just can’t go on. Please look after each other, you deserve happier times than I can give you.”

Mr Carney said: “I have a note, there’s no date on the note, and nothing to indicate it relates to these events. I am leaving my conclusion open. I am certain I can identify the body, the place the death occurred and the date. But I am not certain as to the precise circumstances of how Sally came by her death, or of her intentions.

“I am sorry if that does not answer all questions, but we cannot be certain beyond reasonable doubt.”

The inquest heard how Sally had some anxiety issues, but no more concerns than any other family.

Her disappearance sparked a huge search by husband Gordon, 60, children, Clive, 32, Claire, 30, and David, 28, friends and complete strangers, touched by their appeal to help find Sally.

Since her death, almost £18,000 has been raised for the mental health charity MIND .

Gordon said more people need to be aware of the signs and of mental health issues.

He said: “It was an awful shock when the note was found. That’s what alerted us to Sally’s frame of mind and knew she had to be found.

“There was nothing leading up to her death which really stood out to the family, but we have since learned that people are often very good as masking symptoms.

“This just shows a better of level of education on mental health matters is needed and we all need to help each other.”

He added: “Life is now that little bit quieter without Sally and three months on a bit of sparkle has gone from my life. I miss her everyday but she will best remembered for her smile and caring nature."