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The Daily Mail
By Andy Dolan for the Daily Mail
Published: 20:00 GMT, 1 May 2012 | Updated: 01:03 GMT, 2 May 2012
A mother was found hanged in her flat yards away from the lifeless body of her six-year-old daughter after spiralling into a severe depression following heavy cannabis use.
Clare White, 28, had been smoking the drug virtually every day despite suffering a ‘drug-induced psychotic episode’ aged 17 which left her temporarily unable to speak, an inquest heard yesterday.
The child’s father, Harry Mukumbira, fought back tears as he told the inquest how he had contacted social services in January last year, six months before the tragedy.
He said he became concerned about his ex-partner’s ability to care for Ayesha after returning to her home in Stratford-upon-Avon to find Miss White asleep with their child entertaining herself.
An official noted his details and promised a social worker would be in touch but ‘nobody ever contacted me’, Mr Mukumbira said.
He said the couple had been in an on-off relationship since 2002 and he had realised Miss White was a ‘heavy cannabis user’ soon after they met. Mr Mukumbira moved out of the family home for the last time a month before the tragedy occurred in June 2011.
He said he discovered his daughter and ex-partner’s deaths after Miss White’s mother Margaret called him at work and told him Miss White had ‘done something horrible’.
In a statement, Margaret White told Warwickshire deputy coroner David Clark that she had first noticed a change in her daughter when she was aged around 17, after she dropped out of a beauty therapy course.
She said Miss White enjoyed a busy social life at the time, which led to her and husband Christopher, 60, having ‘a conversation with her about the dangers of drugs’.
Grieving father Harry Mukumbira leaving the inquest in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Mrs White, 59, added: ‘Clare told us that cannabis was a natural substance and she admitted taking it.
‘We strongly urged her to stop taking it. Shortly after that she was arrested for damaging a caravan.’
She said this ‘drug-induced psychotic episode’ led to her daughter, the youngest of four children, being hospitalised and ‘unable to speak for a while’.
The inquest, at the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington Spa, heard Miss White recovered sufficiently to land a placement on a Prince’s Trust project to build a children’s playground, which her mother credited with ‘helping her to value herself’.
She then worked at fashion chain H&M until becoming a cleaner two months before her death, as the job fitted in better with her daughter’s school hours.
Mrs White, of Stratford-upon-Avon, said her daughter was ‘very happy’ the year before she died but her mood had begun to deteriorate by September 2010. She began worrying about trivial matters, lost weight and had difficulty sleeping as depression engulfed her.
Mrs White added: ‘Around this time she told her sister she had decided to stop smoking cannabis.
‘She had been smoking probably every day since she had her psychotic episode, I imagine after Ayesha went to bed.’
Miss White was prescribed sleeping pills but continued to go ‘downhill’, telling her mother she regretted everything in her life, including having her daughter.
The inquest heard Miss White had confided in her best friend, Natalie Renardson, that she had been referred to a psychiatrist in the period before her death, a referral which upset her.
Miss Renardson said: ‘She felt she had something seriously wrong (with her head and brain) and could not get dark thoughts out of her head.’
She said Miss White had been prescribed anti-depressants, but said they made her feel ‘numb’ and ‘soulless’ and had admitted considering suicide.
Miss Renardson and Mrs White discovered the bodies after forcing entry to Miss White’s flat when her mother became concerned she had not replied to phone messages.
They found Miss White hanged and her daughter dead in her bed.
A police officer who attended the scene told the court he discovered a suicide note on the kitchen counter, while one of Ayesha’s books was on the coffee table.
Inside, in a child’s handwriting, was written: ‘I love my book and I love my family.’
Paramedics told the court the pair may have been dead for up to 12 hours by the time they were discovered, two days after they were last seen.
The inquest continues.