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Tragic death of Upper Holloway woman who feared she had MS

Inquest is told how 58-year-old deliberately lay under wheels of a coach as it pulled away from traffic lights

21 April, 2017 — By William McLennan

Police at the scene of the accident in Midland Road, King’s Cross, in November last year

A RETIRED teacher who wrongly believed she was suffering from a debilitating neurological condition deliberately lay under a coach as it pulled away from a red light in King’s Cross, an inquest heard yesterday (Thursday).

Christine Luscombe, who lived in Upper Holloway with husband Peter, died at the scene in Midland Road on November 29, St Pancras Coroner’s Court was told.

Following her death, which came just days after her 58th birthday, friends paid tribute to a woman with a “big smile” who was “always full of energy, bouncing around, a kind heart”.

The inquest heard that after developing a persistent twitch in her leg, Ms Luscombe feared she was suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) – a deterioration of brain and spinal cord that can cause, among other things, muscle spasms.

However, Michael Rose, a consultant neurologist, carried out tests and told her she did not have MS. Dr Rose said in a report read to court: “Her calf twitching was more suggestive of benign fasciculation.”

Having considered the medical evidence, assistant coroner William Dolman said: “She clearly had been very concerned about the fact that she might have MS, which fortunately had been proved negative by all the investigations. I’m sure that was a worry.”

The court heard that on the day she died, Ms Luscombe had locked her husband in their home and left in the family car. He called police to report her missing at around 3.40pm, explaining that she had left home 10 minutes earlier and was depressed and anxious, the inquest heard.

A short time later police and paramedics were called to Midland Road, next to the British Library, to reports of a road traffic accident.

Witnesses told police that Ms Luscombe had lain down in front of the rear wheels of a single-decker coach as it began to pull away, the court heard.

Roy Howard, who was driving the Marshalls Coaches vehicle, told police at the scene: “I slowly started to move and felt a bump. I saw what I thought was a plastic bag.

“I stopped and got out of the coach to be horrified to see a woman lying in the road.”

A police report read to the court found that there the driver was not at fault, concluding: “Mr Howard was driving his coach professionally.”

Dr Dolman said: “It appears from independent witnesses that Ms Luscombe had placed herself in an area where she would inevitably receive injuries.”

He said he could not return a verdict of suicide, because, while “there is no doubt this was a deliberate act”, there was no “cogent evidence” that she intended to end her life.

“Nowhere in the family doctor’s report is there mention of self harm and from the evidence I heard she has said nothing to anyone about wanting to harm herself,” he said.

Returning an open conclusion, Dr Dolman said: “We don’t know what was in her mind. That being the case, I can’t come to the conclusion.

“To say anything would be unfair to the family and unfair to Ms Luscombe herself.”

Recording a cause of death, Dr Dolman said it was “in everyday language, haemorrhage, bleeding due to a fractured pelvis”.

Addressing Mr Luscombe, he said: “Can I offer you every sympathy for the loss of your wife? There’s no blame attach­ed to anyone. It is little comfort to know she did not have the disease she was so worried about. I hope you remember happier times.”

Mr Luscombe said in a statement after the hearing: “Christine and I were deeply in love always and this is a great personal tragedy. I am missing Christine every moment.”

A fundraising drive for four charities, including British Heart Foundation, established in tribute to Ms Luscombe, has reach­ed just under £1,000.

One donor wrote online: “May you continue to smile in heaven, and shower your love down to those you’ve left behind. You will be missed Christine, but not forgotten.”

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