Young mother leapt to her death after years of

Date: Friday 27th April 2012

ongoing health problems

A MOTHER-of-three from Glenridding leapt to her death from a viaduct after expressing concern that her ongoing health problems were not being taken seriously by medical experts, an inquest heard.

Shocked onlookers watched as 29-year-old Jeanette Cort who was known as Jenny climbed over metal bridge railings at Carlisle’s Victoria Viaduct on 23rd June last year. Becoming aware that she intended to jump, a passing postman rushed to her aid but was helpless to stop her. The multiple injuries from which she died included a fractured skull.

An inquest in Carlisle on Wednesday heard that Miss Cort, who had three sons and lived at Barraclough Fold, Glenridding, had a long history of health problems. These included abnormal blood, a benign essential tremor and lower back pain, the latter exacerbating difficulties she had with her ankles.

Miss Cort, who hailed from the Cleveland area, was referred to various specialists from time to time and on two occasions, around a decade ago, suffered from postnatal depression.

Her back problems became more serious but would not respond to medication or treatment by a physiotherapist who, it was said, felt he could do no more for her.

Miss Cort was referred for X-rays and other tests. She was given crutches and sought further advice from Glenridding-based GP Dr. Jonathan Smith. However, after a visit to see the doctor, several days before her death, she reported to friends and family that he had told her the problems were “in her head”.

Close friend and neighbour Mrs. Kylie Jane Douglas said she had been told this by Miss Cort, who had responded by taking her medication and crutches back to the surgery.

This was confirmed by Mrs. Mary Gillett, a volunteer with East Cumbria Family Support Association, who had provided assistance to Miss Cort during two spells since 2002.

“The doctor had told her he would not be referring her to a consultant, that it would be a waste of the consultant’s time and that her problems were all in her head,” said Mrs. Gillett. “She was upset and annoyed, left the pills and crutches behind; told him to ‘stuff them’.”

“HUMILIATED”

Although Miss Cort had another appointment with the doctor later that week, she told Mrs. Gillett she “couldn’t face going back as she had been so humiliated”.

However, in evidence to the inquest, Dr. Smith vehemently denied this had been the case. “I would never suggest that problems were imaginary or inside her head. People don’t imagine symptoms,” he said.

Dr. Smith told the inquest that tests had shown Miss Cort’s depression to be moderately severe, and he had suggested that a form of behavioural therapy might help. This was, he said, another tool to help her. However, he stressed there was no evidence that she was considering suicide. “It didn’t raise its head at all. It was a complete surprise when I heard the news (of her death),” he said.

Miss Cort’s mother, Sonia, told the inquest she had spoken to her daughter by phone on the day of her death. Her daughter was very quiet and not enthusiastic about a forthcoming family holiday which, she said, was unusual.

Postman Christopher Gouge told the hearing he saw Miss Cort climbing over a wall at Victoria Viaduct and quickly realised all was not well. “I got to her and said, ‘What are you doing? Don’t be silly’,” said Mr. Gouge.

By that time Miss Cort was on the other side of the railings and out of his reach. Miss Cort nodded her head when asked by Mr. Gouge if she could hear him, and then again more vigorously when he suggested that she did not want to jump. “I asked her just to talk to me, but when she didn’t respond to that I got the impression from her that nothing I said was going to stop her from doing it,” he said.

Coroner David Roberts thanked Mr. Gouge for his efforts. “Quite clearly the family are very grateful for your attempt to try and dissuade this young lady. You should be commended for that,” he said.

Referring to the conversation between Miss Cort and Dr. Smith just days before her death, Mr. Roberts said there could often be a “difference in perception” between what was said by a doctor and what was understood by a patient.

After listening to all the evidence and hearing background information from friends and family, Mr. Roberts concluded that Miss Cort had taken her own life. He added: “When she let go (of the railings) she must have intended the consequences.”