Fear of flooding may have led to woman’s death

The River Coquet in Rothbury in January. 
Picture by Jane Coltman
The River Coquet in Rothbury in January. Picture by Jane Coltman

An elderly woman who drowned in the River Coquet at Rothbury earlier this year may have been checking the level of the river.

An inquest heard that Julie Scott, 79, was worried about a possible repeat of 2008 when her home at The Maltings was flooded.

Her body was discovered by a passer-by on the morning of Wednesday, January 13. She was still wearing her pyjamas and a fleece.

In a personal diary found after her death, Mrs Scott reveals her anxiety about rising river levels after a period of wet weather.

Her son, Mark England, confirmed these fears and said it had been the topic of their last conversation.

Mrs Scott also had concerns about her health and suffered from depression and anxiety.

Tony Brown, senior coroner for north Northumberland, said: “She had been feeling very low at times, was depressed and she was attending hospital appointments having been concerned about a breast lump and diagnosis of cancer.

“However, she had not indicated to any of her neighbours or her son that she intended to take her life.

“There was evidence of confusion and concern about rising river levels, having previously been flooded in 2008.

“She used to regularly go down to the River Coquet to check on river levels and she had made several entries in her personal diary commenting on it. It was clearly a concern to her whether there would be another flood.

“It’s clear from the evidence that the death is consistent with another explanation.

“Mrs Scott did regularly go down to the river to check the water levels and it’s quite possible that she could have slipped on the muddy embankment and slipped into the water.”

Mr Brown recorded an open verdict.

The week before Mrs Scott’s death had seen heavy rainfall across Northumberland with flood alerts issued for a number of rivers in the county.

There were overnight closures of the riverside flood gate at Rothbury due to the rising river levels, but while the Coquet ran high on several occasions, no properties in the village were flooded.