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M6 death grandma blamed Government in her suicide note

Stephanie Bottrill, 52, said she felt "anxious and stressed" about having to move house because of the controversial benefit changes before the tragedy.

Stephanie Bottrill
Stephanie Bottrill

A grandma committed suicide by walking into the path of a lorry on the M6 after leaving a note blaming the Government’s bedroom tax for her death, an inquest heard.

Stephanie Bottrill, 52, said she felt “anxious and stressed” about having to move house because of the controversial benefit changes before the tragedy.

Her son Steven later said his mother felt tortured about having to find an extra £20 extra a week for the two under-occupied rooms in her three-bedroom Solihull home. She had been offered a smaller home by Solihull Council, which would have allowed her to avoid paying the Government’s spare room subsidy – dubbed the bedroom tax.

But she died from multiple injuries after stepping over a safety barrier and being hit by the truck at around 6.15am on May 4 last year.

Birmingham Coroners Court heard Ms Bottrill visited her GP the day before her death and said she had suicidal thoughts because she felt rushed into making a decision about moving from her home in Meriden Drive, Kingshurst.

Dr Bindu Nair said: “Ms Bottrill informed me she had called her children in the early hours of May 3, 2013, saying she couldn’t cope with the stress and wanted to end it all, and had written a note planning to jump off a bridge.

“The property offered to her was in Sheldon, it was far from the property she had lived in for 20 years.

“She said she was happy to move to a smaller property but was still coming to terms with living alone after her daughter had moved out.”

Ms Bottrill refused a referral to a psychiatrist but was prescribed diazepam and agreed to be reviewed by her GP on May 8.

The court heard she had suffered with depression since 1993 and took an overdose in 2005. She also experienced “dark thoughts”’ in 2010 following a neighbour dispute.

Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Zafar Siddique said Ms Bottrill had written a number of notes to family members prior to her death.

“The notes said she did not blame her family and she loved them. It was because of the housing changes and she felt under a considerable amount of anxiety.”

The cause of death was given as multiple injuries. Mr Siddique gave a conclusion of suicide.

Following the inquest, Ms Bottrill’s brother Kevin Owens played down the bedroom tax claims.

“Our thoughts go out to the driver because obviously this has affected his life as well,” Mr Owens said. “For social housing to work, it’s a system where people need to take their turn.

“Much has been written about the bedroom tax pushing her. It wasn’t because prior to that she had attempted suicide before.

“That [bedroom tax] might have been the catalyst to push her, but was it just the excuse she was looking for?”

A police investigation concluded there was nothing the lorry driver could have done to avoid Ms Bottrill who had stepped into the truck’s path on the M6 southbound, between junction 4a and 4.

 

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