Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 16:28 UK

Charity worker froze to death in Kensington Ponds

Jessie Stafford
Jessie Stafford, centre, died from hypothermia in January

A charity worker recovering from anorexia froze to death next to an iced-over pond in central London, an inquest has heard.

Jessie Stafford, 29, was found by a nun close to the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens on 15 January, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

Ms Stafford, from Notting Hill, west London, had received treatment for anorexia and depression since 2009.

She died from hypothermia, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

Father's concerns

Forensic pathologist Dr Robert Chapman, who carried out a detailed post-mortem examination, said Ms Stafford was 5ft 9in and weighed 9st 3lb (58.4kg).

He said: "As the body cools, there will be a period of confusion and then the person feels hot, paradoxically, and removes clothing."

I said: 'Hello' and there was no response
Sister Jessica Gatty

Referring to her wet clothes, he added: "I wondered whether there was a possibility that she might well have gone in the pond at some point, chilling her clothing."

Her frozen body was found by just after 0700 GMT, during Sister Jessica Gatty's early morning walk in the park.

Giving evidence at the hearing, she said how she initially noticed what she thought was discarded clothing on the path, then realised it was a person.

She said: "I think I looked closer to see if the person was alive. I said: 'Hello' and there was no response.

"I bent down and touched her arm which was outstretched. It was very cold and I thought that this did not look too good."

Toxicology tests found no trace of any drugs or alcohol in Ms Stafford's body.

In a statement read out at the inquest, her GP Dr Simon Ramsden of Pembridge Villas Surgery said her father had expressed concern in June last year about her eating.

Ms Stafford was briefly admitted for help, before being discharged before Christmas, becoming a day patient at Vincent Square Clinic in central London, which deals with eating disorders.



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