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Reading and Berkshire News – Tilehurst
By Ed Walker, Joe Gammie
A mother-of-three who married her partner after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer was left so heartbroken by his eventual death she took a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol to “find him again,” an inquest has heard.
Amanda Tucker met husband Jason after ending a 15-year relationship but during their courtship he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer leading to a whirlwind marriage before the disease took his life.
However, an inquest heard that Mrs Tucker was left so distraught by his death that she took a lethal dose of painkillers and alcohol before calling her mum to say she “was sorry, loved her, but wanted to find Jason.”
Giving evidence at the inquest on Tuesday her brother Dean White said his sister had called their mum the night before her death.
“She called her up, she said she loved her, she was sorry, that she was going to find Jason,” he said.
“That was when my mum knew that something wasn’t right so she phoned for an ambulance.”
Mr Gearing said Amanda had been very happy when she met her husband-to-be Jason after splitting from a previous partner of 15 years.
“When she split from her previous partner she met Jason,” he said.
“It was like a turning point, she was very happy but then to have that taken away from her…”
He said his sister had not only said she was “sorry” to their mother but lied that she was at a friend’s house, in what he believed was a deliberate attempt to not be stopped from taking her own life.
“She told my mum she wasn’t at home, she was at a friend’s house,” he added.
“It was to lead us off the case. When she phoned my mum at that time of night my mum said ‘are you at a friend’s house’ and she said yes.
“But my mum heard the dog bark and she knew she was at home.”
Mrs Tucker’s mother, Lorraine White, raised the alarm and paramedics rushed to the home in Tilehurst.
The 38-year-old mother-of-three was taken to hospital in an ambulance but suffered respiratory arrest seconds before arriving at A&E.
Although doctors managed to stabilise her, Mrs Tucker remained in a deep unconscious state at the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s intensive care unit.
The next day she suffered multiple cardiac arrests and seizures but despite medics battling to save her doctors and her family eventually agreed to not resuscitate the grief-stricken wife.
A post mortem examination revealed that Mrs Tucker died from a lethal combination of a morphine-based painkiller and alcohol.
The toxicology report found that although she was twice the legal drink driving limit she had taken enough of the unprescribed painkiller to be fatal on its own.
The inquest heard that Mrs Tucker had first reported feeling depressed and anxious in 2010 after a 15 year relationship had begun floundering.
However, less than a year later she reported to her GP she was feeling anxious and having panic attacks.
Mrs Tucker then returned to her GP in May 2012 stating she felt acute stress because her partner was undergoing tests for a growth in his pancreas, which was diagnosed as Stage four Pancreatic Cancer in October that year.
The inquest heard that the tragic lovers married but Jason died less than a year later in 2013, sparking her diagnosis of chronic depression.
Her GP had prescribed her anti-depressants, but she was referred to the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for emotional support after admitting suicidal thoughts.
However, Berkshire’s assistant coroner Ravi Sidhu blasted the trust for not doing enough to contact the distraught mother because staff only tried to call and text her.
Mr Sidhu said more could have been done to reach the troubled Mrs Tucker rather than just sending text messages and calling her.
He said: “There was some information that would have been relevant that was lacking and there was a lack of appropriate time and effort spent on the information that was there.”
However, the trust’s deputy head of governance, Stuart Gray, insisted that lessons had been learned.
“We have issued guidance in terms of what we expect, what we consider to be appropriate attempts to contact an individual before that case is closed,” he said.
He also admitted there was information that was not acted on in Mrs Tucker’s file that was not “adequately taken into account” when assessing her referral from the GP.
“What we found was the assessor had either not taken into account information from previous referrals or said that there was not enough to look at it given the pressure on the service itself,” he added.
Mr Sidhu said that there was enough evidence to satisfy him that Mrs Tucker deliberately took her own life.
Recording a verdict of suicide he said: “Over a number of years she was a happy lady in the sense that she had children that needed her.
“She wanted, as we are all entitled to, a family life with a partner that she loved. “She had reached a point in her life where having had a relationship that didn’t work out she was in a situation where she was looking forward to that.
“That in itself would point away from anyone wanting to take their own life but beyond her control he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and it had a devastating effect on her.”