Lesbian who married her lover in one of Britain’s first same-sex weddings was found hanged in a cemetery after the marriage fell apart — (Mail Online)

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Mail Online

By Harriet Arkell

PUBLISHED: 16:56 GMT, 19 December 2013

A woman who married her lesbian lover in one of Britain’s first same sex weddings was found hanged in a cemetery, more than a year after the marriage fell apart, a coroner heard today.

Donna Canavan-McClung had divorced her partner of nine years and started a ‘volatile’ relationship with a new girlfriend who filed a domestic abuse complaint against her days before she died, an inquest into her death heard.

Mrs Canavan-McClung, 32, married mother-of-two Colleen Canavan in 2006, months after the law was changed to allow gay civil ceremonies in the UK.  But the marriage broke down after five years and they divorced in February last year.

Mrs Canavan-McClung, a lifeguard and swimming teacher who had recently lost her job, began a new relationship with a woman called Miranda Yardley, which, Dorset coroner Sherriff Payne said, was ‘volatile’.

The new couple lived together most of the time but often fell out and had violent rows, the inquest heard.

Their problems came to a head this October when Miss Yardley went to the police claiming she was a victim of domestic abuse, before sending her lover a text saying she was bringing domestic abuse charges against her.

Mrs Canavan-McClung was upset by the news and told relations that she would ‘go on the run’ rather than be arrested, the coroner heard.

Her mother, Beth Rowles said: ‘Miranda had contacted her and told her she had spent four hours in a police station pressing charges against Donna over a domestic problem, which frightened Donna and which is why she ran off.

‘She could not face being arrested.  Her opinion, as far as we know, was “What’s the point of being here?”‘

The inquest heard that Mrs Canavan-McClung had been prescribed anti-depressants after losing the job she loved at a local leisure centre earlier this year.

Her mother said she was ‘tipped over the edge’ when Miss Yardley turned up at her home and dumped her belongings on the driveway in the middle of the night on 7 October.

The inquest heard Mrs Canavan-McClung had sent a final text message to her mother saying: ‘What’s the point? I’ve had enough. Nothing good ever happens to me. I will get the blame anyway.’

Two days later she sent a worrying text message to her father, and police later found her hanging in Weymouth Cemetery at 9.15pm that night, the inquest heard.

PC Michael Holman, of Dorset Police, told the coroner in a statement: ‘I could see a figure hanging’.

‘She was warm to the touch. I concluded she had not been in this position for very long.’

Officers cut her down ‘with great difficulty’, but she was declared dead at the scene.

CCTV footage from the supermarket in Weymouth showed Mrs Canavan-McClung on her own in the store at 7pm on the night she died, buying items she used to kill herself, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination and toxicology test on the body found she had 174mg of alcohol per 100ml of her blood in her system at the time of her death, more than twice the legal driving limit.

‘She had reached a crisis point and she had seen a message that the police were likely to arrest her.’

– Dorset coroner Sherriff Payne

Summing up the case at Dorchester County Hall, the Dorset coroner said: ‘She had a long-term relationship with another woman,which failed, and was then involved in another relationship which seems to have been marred by various episodes of disputes between then and much unpleasantness.

‘Close to the time of her death, matters were getting very difficult for her. She had not got settled accommodation for the future, and she was involved in a dispute with her new partner about her belongings and possessions.

‘She had reached a crisis point and she had seen a message that the police were likely to arrest her. She became very alarmed by this and so she was going on the run.

‘During the course of 9 October, she left various messages with members of her family and this woman to the effect that she was going to kill herself.

‘The family understandably became concerned and informed the police, who began a search.

‘She was subsequently found in the cemetery. She was quite clearly dead.’

He added: ‘I’m sure that she knew what she was doing. She knew that this was going to end her life and therefore she has taken her own life. She has committed suicide.’