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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Payout over depressed mum's death
The family of a woman who was found dead 15 days after being let out of a psychiatric ward have been awarded 235,000 damages.

Julie Godbold, 38, was admitted to Greenwich District Hospital in south-east London in November 2000 with severe post-natal depression.

But the hospital admitted reducing her anti-depressants and allowing her to leave the ward on 6 December.

The mother-of-four was found drowned on 21 December, the High Court heard.

The trust very much hopes that the damages will give some assistance to the family in coping with what has occurred
Trust counsel Dennis Matthews
Paula Sparks, counsel for the family, told the judge that Mrs Godbold was allowed to leave the ward while she was still unwell and ought to have been detained.

But her medication and "observation status" had been lowered and she was able to leave the hospital unobserved.

After searches by police and her family, her body was found at the King George V Dock in East Ham, east London, days before Christmas.

An inquest found she died while suffering from a depressive illness and drowned in unexplained circumstances.

Her husband Ronald gave up work to care for the couple's four children aged four to 14.

Judge Mr Justice Richards described it as a "desperately sad case".

Oxleas NHS Trust's counsel, Dennis Matthews, said it deeply regretted "shortcomings in the care" of Mrs Godbold and said "internal procedures" had since been changed to prevent it happening again.

"Although clearly no amount of money will compensate the family for the loss of a wife and mother, the trust very much hopes that the damages will give some assistance to the family in coping with what has occurred," he said.

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