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Police blamed by family for death of woman who jumped to death

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

  • Eileen Keating

  • Michelle Curran

A FAMILY has blamed police for the death of a woman who jumped overboard from ferry.

Eileen Keating, 57, of Tamar Road, had been missing for two weeks when she was found by police in Pembroke Dock as she waited to catch a ferry.

Two officers decided she was mentally and physically fit to undertake the journey and they let her go on her way, the Gloucester inquest was told.

The officers and their sergeant rejected telephone pleas by her daughter Michelle Curran to detain her mother so she could travel to Pembroke.

Crewman later saw Mrs Keating jump from the deck into the sea.

Recording an open verdict, assistant deputy Gloucestershire coroner Katy Skerrett said she could not be sure she had intended to end her own life.

After the hearing Mrs Curran, a 38-year-old mother-of-four, said: "The police officers who spoke to her didn't realise it but she was a lost, scared and desperate woman who needed help."

Mrs Keating had been reported missing in October 2010 after being discharged from a West Wales hospital where she was being seen for a chest condition. Officers found Mrs Keating about to board the ferry at Pembroke Dock on November 6. PC Daniel Thomas found her lying down on a bench, apparently asleep.

He said: "There was nothing she said which worried me.

"She most definitely did not appear to pose any threat to herself or any other person."

PC Lowri Williams, who was with PC Thomas, spoke to Mrs Curran on the phone to tell her the situation.

She said: "We had no power to stop her mother from travelling because we had no concerns for her physical or mental health." An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the officers' handling of the situation concluded they were not negligent and the decision to allow her to board the ferry was justified.

Mrs Curran now plans to campaign for a change in the Mental Health Act powers of detention.

"I would hate to think of someone else being in my position with their mother being far away," she said.

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