Swindon woman drowned after tiff with partner

The River Coln in Bibury, where Helen Jones drowned in April

The River Coln in Bibury, where Helen Jones drowned in April

First published in News
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HELEN Jones drowned in a pretty Cotswold river after a tiff with her girlfriend, an inquest heard today.

Helen, 49, of Bullfinch close, Swindon, Wilts, had attended a wedding reception at the Swan Hotel in Bibury, nr Cirencester, Glos, on 13th April but had a small row with partner Sarah French when they went back to their room at about 12.20am. 

Sometime during the night Helen left their room, collected a bottle of wine from her car, and walked to the nearby River Coln, the Gloucester inquest was told.

Early the next morning her body was found in the river by local man Philip Clough and her bag, phone, other belongings and the empty wine bottle on the bank, the Gloucester inquest was told.

Gloucestershire coroner Katy Skerrett ruled her death was a tragic accident.

Sarah French had told the inquest in a statement "We had a very small argument. I felt she'd had a lot to drink and I thought she would go to bed and sleep it off.

"I left the room to go and join some friends at twenty to one. The hotel CCTV showed Helen leaving the room at 12.47am. She went to her car, opened the boot and took out a bottle of wine and walked off.

"I got back to our room at 2.30am and she was not there. I texted her at 2.50am and got no reply."

She said she was concerned about Helen but did not know what to do and did not want to disturb friends or hotel staff.

Then police arrived at her room just after 7am to break the news of Helen's death, she stated.

After her statement had been read, Ms French asked to give evidence to the court about the row.

She said "The argument was literally a very small one over her opening the window and me wanting to close the window."

She added: "Before this, Helen had been upset over an argument with her family and this had really affected her for five weeks prior to the wedding. I think with the drink as well she was in a melancholy state. On a couple of occasions during that day she had been very upset."

Helen's father then asked if he could give evidence and told the coroner that there had been friction between his daughter and the family over the past 11 years but the assertion has been made that they were at loggerheads.

He added: "We saw little of each other - but we were not enemies. We were not at loggerheads."

Mr Clough, who found Helen's body, said she was lying on her back in the river with her feet near the bank and her head towards the centre.

Her shoes and handbag were on the riverbank near her body.

Mr Clough went home to call the police then returned with his wife Elaine and they checked for a pulse but could not find one.

Police used Helen's car key to find her Nissan Juke in the hotel car park and were checking it when two women approached and told them they knew her and her partner.

That led to an officer calling on Ms French to break the news.

A toxicology report showed Helen had 191mgs of alcohol in 100mls of blood - almost two and a half times the limit for a drink driver.

Recording an accidental death verdict the coroner said: "It is clear she had had arguments with members of her family and her partner.

"She had consumed too much alcohol. She then made a very bad decision to go down to the river in an intoxicated state. She decided to do that - she made a very bad error which led to this tragic accidental drowning. The amount of alcohol she had consumed was a contributory factor."

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