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Major’s wife had started to lose hair and have suicidal thoughts after being woken up to 20 times a night by baby Harrison
Emma Cadywould had been battling with depression for six months before driving to a railway and placing herself on the track shortly before Christmas
By Ben Riley-Smith, and agencies
9:32AM GMT 15 Nov 2013
A new mother killed by 100mph train was suffering from “one of the worst cases of post-natal depression” a coroner had ever seen, he told an inquest into her death.
Emma Cadywould had started to lose her hair and have suicidal thoughts after giving birth to baby Harrison, being woken as much as 20 times a night.
The 32-year-old had been battling with depression for six months before driving to a railway and placing herself on the track shortly before Christmas.
Yet because the Major’s wife’s exact intentions were unknown, coroner Peter Hatvany said he was unable to record a specific verdict.
Mrs Cadywould, known by friends as Emsie, was struggling to cope following the birth of her son despite support military husband Steve, regularly telling loved ones she wanted to be at peace and expressed suicidal thoughts.
She sought medical help and was prescribed antidepressants to cope with the strain, which had also taken a physical toll, resulting in hair loss.
On December 16, 2011, she left from her home in Watchfield, next to the UK Defence Academy, on the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire border.
She drove four miles towards Swindon, Wilts., where she parked near the village of South Marston and made her way onto the main railway linking London with the West Country.
Shortly afterwards she was struck by a 100mph train.
The driver, who was partially blinded by the sun, thought he might have hit a deer and he continued to Swindon station, where an inspection of the damage led to an investigation further back down the tracks.
Major Cadywould told the hearing how he and his wife had been “rapidly ejected” from Swindon’s Great Western Hospital following Harrison’s birth.
“We left after four hours. It was made clear to us at the beginning that they have a quick turnaround … I think it was quite a shock – the whole process,” he said.
“As time elapsed Harrison was difficult to get into a routine. The whole night from day, day from night, feeding. There was no routine. She found that very difficult with broken sleep.
He described Harrison as a “very fretful baby” and said he would wake 10 to 20 times a night, sometimes with as little as 20 minutes in between.
Both took it in turns to look after Harrison but his father began to take further responsibility when Emma couldn’t cope.
“There was a sudden change … I think it had come to a point she could no longer cope. Physically she was okay, but mentally she wasn’t coping,” Major Cadywould said.
The couple were married in December 2007 and Harrison was born on June 1, 2011.
On the fateful day, the Major had breakfast with his wife and she dressed their baby and later drove him to nursery.
They had discussed “normal domestic” issues, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.
Major Cadywould, who had been taking military commander exams in the days, said: “I believe she took care to conceal it (her suicidal thoughts) from me.
“She didn’t even tell me about the way she was feeling so I was unaware she had those thoughts. She didn’t talk to me about thinking about harming herself.”
The University of Bristol researcher for the department of East Asian studies was later died at about 10.30am that day.
Train driver Christopher Woodley was at the controls of the cab of the 9.30am First Great Western train from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads when he heard a “loud bang.”
“The journey was uneventful until 10.30am when the train was in an area between Bourton and South Marston, just past the Acorn Bridge going at a speed of approximately 105mph,” he said in his statement.
“A loud bang was heard at the front of the train but I did not see what caused the noise. The sun was very bright, light was shining into the cab.”
A post mortem examination revealed Emma, of Saxon Orchard, Watchfield had died from “multiple injuries from an impact”. Toxicology results showed prescription antidepressants in her bloodstream.
Mr Hatvany, the assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “This is one of, if not the, worst cases of post natal depression I have ever seen.”
Despite the evidence, he stressed: “Only she knew why she made her way to the railway line that morning.” He recorded a narrative verdict into her death.
Her family said the verdict was the best they could have expected and they vowed to continue to raise awareness into the condition which blighted Emma.
“No mother should have to die from post-natal depression,” they said.