Natasha 'had taken overdoses in past'
A TEENAGER who died after being hit by a train had threatened to kill herself shortly beforehand and taken overdoses in the past, an inquest heard.The disappearance of Natasha Coombs, 17, sparked a two-week search which ended when her body was found down a steep embankment just outside Manningtree railway station.
A TEENAGER who died after being hit by a train had threatened to kill herself shortly beforehand and taken overdoses in the past, an inquest heard.
The disappearance of Natasha Coombs, 17, sparked a two-week search which ended when her body was found down a steep embankment just outside Manningtree railway station.
Miss Coombs, of Fronks Road, Dovercourt, went missing on the way home from a night out with friends to Ipswich on July 27 this year and was not found until August 10 when a train driver alerted police after spotting material from her skirt next to the track.
About five weeks later, Miss Coombs' mother Joanne went to the same spot - one mile outside Manningtree station and close to the Mill Hill bridge - and was hit by a train and killed.
An inquest jury at County Hall in Chelmsford yesterday reached verdicts that Miss Coombs died as the result of an accident while her 41-year-old mother killed herself.
Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray was told that Miss Coombs' cause of death was “unascertained” but consistent with a train strike.
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Giving evidence, her father Gary Coombs said his daughter had been in a relationship with Joshua Brennan for around 18 months or two years which was “very much on and off, it was typical of teenage relationships”.
He told the hearing Miss Coombs had taken overdoses on more than one occasion, the first in November 2005 when she was worried about forthcoming exams.
But he added: “We did not believe Natasha would want to take her life at all. We put it down to attention seeking.”
Miss Coombs also had “black days” and could suffer from mood swings, the jury heard.
Giving evidence Mr Brennan told the hearing that at 3am on July 27 he and Miss Coombs had a telephone conversation and agreed not to see each other for two weeks.
He said there had been “a lot of tension” in the relationship and added: “I felt like I needed two or three weeks to get back on track.”
During the day on July 27, Mr Brennan said he received a few texts from Miss Coombs as well as a bunch of flowers with a card which said she was sorry and she loved him.
That evening he went to Cardinal Park in Ipswich with a work colleague, also called Natasha, where they had a pizza and then went into the cinema where Mr Brennan turned off his mobile phone.
In the meantime Miss Coombs had also travelled to Cardinal Park and waited outside the cinema to see if she could see Mr Brennan going in, before meeting friends and going for a meal.
One of the friends, Helen Rosenthal, said Miss Coombs had not seen Mr Brennan going into the cinema but she knew from his brother Callum that he was with another girl.
“She didn't seem upset, she was more annoyed that she could not get hold of him,” said Miss Rosenthal.
Miss Coombs caught the 10.42pm train home, telling her friends she was going to see Mr Brennan and in a text to her parents she claimed to have booked a taxi from Manningtree station so did not need picking up.
Mr Brennan's mother, Lynn Brennan, told the inquest she had been out with friends and returned to her home in Lawford to find her own mother speaking to Miss Coombs on the phone.
“I took the phone,” Mrs Brennan said. “Natasha was quite upset and wanting to know where Joshua was.
“There was no way I was going to say he was out with a girl as she was so upset. She told me she was on the railway line between Ipswich and Manningtree. I said she shouldn't be silly.
“I just really wanted to get her and several times I said 'tell me where you are, we will come and get you, pick you up and you can come here and sort whatever problems you've got.
“Natasha said she was going to throw herself in front of a train and I pleaded with her not to do that and not to be silly.
“She was trying to make me realise she was on the train track but the only thing I could hear was gravel. I was not convinced she was on the track.”
Mrs Brennan then rang Joanne Coombs to tell her what had happened and Mrs Coombs said they would deal with it.
When Mr Brennan returned home from the cinema at 11.20pm and switched his phone back on he found a missed call from Miss Coombs and three or four texts, the last of which said if he did not contact her within half-an-hour she would throw herself in front of a train.
He said his first reaction was to be “quite angry” and to feel that she was attention seeking.
“It may appear rather callous but I really didn't believe Tash would kill herself and the behaviour fitted what I had experienced before,” he said. “She had no reason to kill herself and I don't believe she intended to do so.”
Mr Coombs broke down in tears describing the suffering he and his wife endured as the police searched for their only child.
He said: “It was hell. It was hell. She was very strong for everybody else. That was Joanne. Every day, the emotion bottled up.”
Mrs Coombs drove to the shrine that had been made for her daughter on September 18 and her body was found shortly afterwards when a train driver reported feeling a jolt as he approached Manningtree station at about 60 or 70mph.
The inquest heard Mrs Coombs, who died from a head injury, was between the tracks when the train hit her while her daughter had been walking beside the track and suffered a “glancing blow” from a train.
Mr Coombs said: “I have to accept that Joanne did intend her death. She was a remarkable lady who believed strongly in eternal life and did what she believed would be best for the daughter we both loved. I now believe she is with Natasha.”
After the inquest Mr Coombs said: “There aren't any words that can be said to bring my lovely girls, Joanne and Natasha, back and I simply cannot put into words just how much I miss the two of them and the happy and perfect life we had together.”
Mr Brennan said: “Life will never be the same without Natasha and Joanne. I and the rest of her family and friends are still finding it hard to come to terms with.
“I will always love Natasha and cherish the memories we have shared. I hope and pray that Natasha and Joanne had found happiness together.”