Woman locked in dispute with DWP died after setting fire to herself, inquest hears

A woman locked in a dispute with the DWP set herself on fire and told paramedics she wanted to die, an inquest heard.

Gillian Croft suffered first, second and third degree burns affecting 80 per cent of her body and her neighbours were woken up by her screaming, Hull Coroner’s Court was told.

When paramedics rushed to the 61-year-old’s home she told them she wanted to die.

She later died at Hull Royal Infirmary on July 10 last year as a result of burns to her body and head, Hull Live reports.

The inquest was told Gillian was in dispute with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at the time of her death.

She was born in Leeds, moved to Selby and did well at school and went to secretarial college, but later developed ME in adolescence and continued to suffer with it for the rest of her life.

Coroner Professor Paul Marks told the court that Gillian’s mum developed motor neurone disease in 2000 and she cared for her until she died in 2002.

He said: “Gillian had a documented past medical history of overdoses, mixed anxiety and depression and she went on to be diagnosed with severe depression with psychotic features as well as an unstable personality disorder.

“She had a long and appropriate association with the mental health services.

“She lived alone in the home she had shared with her mother and had few relationships other than with her neighbour and her second cousin, who lived some distance away.”

Professor Marks also said that Gillian had found the death of her mum extremely difficult to adjust to but did not get in touch with the mental health services until 2011.

She said had suicidal thoughts and problems with alcohol but he said she had difficulty in engaging with therapy and cancelled appointments with the mental health team.

The inquest also heard Gillian had an ongoing problem with gaining payments from the DWP that caused her distress.

“A decision on whether Gillian needed to repay monies [to the DWP] was still awaited at the time of her death,” Professor Marks said.

“There does not appear to be a clear explanation or root cause as to why Gillian died when she did. She exhibited self harming behaviour and this put her at risk of permanent harm.

“Gillian did not seek additional support [from mental health services] prior to her tragic death.

“This is a particularly harrowing case and all that can be hoped is the morphine administered by paramedics would alleviate Gillian’s pain prior to her passing away.

The inquest concluded Gillian died as a result of suicide as told paramedics she wanted to die and left a suicide note.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions told the Mirror: “Our thoughts remain with Ms Croft’s family and friends at this difficult time.”