Original article no longer available
This is Cornwall
Thursday, November 20, 2008, 16:15
ONE of Penzance’s most-loved market traders drowned in the mistaken belief she might be suffering from cancer, an inquest heard this week.
Susan Cookson-Phillips, 64, known as Sue, feared she might have fallen prey to the same disease that had claimed her mother’s life at 59.
But after the Penlee lifeboat’s crew pulled her body from the sea off Newlyn in June this year, an autopsy revealed she in fact had a benign tumour.
Tributes had earlier poured in for Mrs Cookson-Phillips, who was said to be so popular in the Penzance community that it would take her at least an hour to walk down the main street in the town because her many friends wanted to talk to her.
Her inquest in Truro on Tuesday heard how she had become “deeply depressed” ahead of a planned exploratory operation to determine if she had cancer.
Her husband, Ronald, 72, said in a written statement, it was clear she was “drawing a comparison” with the suffering her mother had gone through after she was diagnosed and subsequently died of cancer. Four months earlier, Mrs Cookson-Phillips had experienced pain in her solar plexus, the hearing was told.
She had undergone tests and was due to face the exploratory operation at West Cornwall Hospital the day after her body was found floating in the water near Battery Rocks.
An autopsy later established she had a benign tumour. The inquest heard that Mrs Cookson-Phillips’ husband last saw her when he went to bed at their home in New Road, Newlyn, at around 11.15am on June 18.
He awoke at 5.15am the next day then walked to Newlyn Bridge and the port’s playing fields to look for her.
He then searched surrounding roads and parts of Mousehole. Her body was seen in the sea by a walker at 5.50am.
Toxicology tests showed traces of temazepam – slightly above the therapeutic range that could affect her “cognitive function” – and the anti-depressant, citalopram.
Detective Constable Martin Hearn, of Penzance police, said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Summing up, Cornwall’s coroner Dr Emma Carlyon said she accepted the pathologist’s conclusion that Mrs Cookson-Phillips had drowned.
But she said the medication she had taken may have affected her cognitive functions and added there were “lots of variations that could have affected things”.
She recorded an open verdict.