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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 19:08 GMT
Death 'misadventure' jury rules
The death of a 16-year-old girl compulsorily detained in a mental health unit was misadventure, an inquest at Swindon has ruled.

Zoe Dixon, of Staunton, Gloucestershire, was found hanging from a tree after escaping from Marlborough House in Swindon, in June 2004.

The inquest heard Zoe was allowed to keep a ligature from a previous suicide bid just hours earlier.

Zoe's body was discovered the next morning outside the unit's grounds.

'Black cord'

Ms Dixon suffered from depression and had self-harmed since she was 13, taking two overdoses before she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in April 2004.

The inquest at Swindon's Gablecross Police Station was told staff discovered the teenager standing on a desk in her bedroom with a black cord tied around her neck just minutes before she made her escape.

She was allowed to keep the ligature, which had been only loosely tied. Her therapy assistant, Janet Brown said she let Zoe keep the cord around her neck because it would only upset her more to take it away.

As her therapy assistant went to get her a drink, Zoe ran away.

Wiltshire Coroner David Masters asked Mrs Brown if the front door was locked at night. "No, you just push a button," she said.

"So if you wanted to leave it would be a simple matter?" he asked her. "Yes," she replied.

Police were called but it took 45 minutes for them to arrive because there were no vehicles available.

When officers searched the grounds there was no sign of Zoe. But 10 hours later, the next day, she was found hanging from a tree.

Zoe's family were at the inquest and heard that she was found with her arms around the branches - as if she was trying to save herself.

After sitting for a week, the jury returned its verdict of misadventure on Friday.




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