Bethan Evans, Reporter
Sunday, May 6, 2012
A FORMER psychiatric nurse who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease was found dead near a railway track after she had been reported missing from her home.
Seventy-nine-year-old Edith Batten was found partly-clothed on October 25 last year, next to the railway line in Dunball, two days after she had gone missing from her home in Highbridge.
During her inquest, held in Bridgwater last week, West Somerset coroner Michael Rose told the court Mrs Batten, of Dunstan Road, left for a walk on October 23, while her husband Derek prepared Sunday lunch.
He reported her missing the following day.
Edith was found on October 25, with some of her clothing placed under rocks.
A post-mortem revealed no evidence that she had been assaulted or hit by a train.
Mr Rose told the court there had been other incidents where she had gone missing and that she had started to develop dementia around 2009.
He said: “Until summer 2007 she enjoyed good health. In May 2010 she had gone shopping in Bridgwater. She had not come back that evening and at about midnight the British Transport Police (BTP) called her husband from London Paddington station to tell him she was there.
“After this the police often had to bring her back when she went out at night and on one occasion she had been found on the M5.”
John Wilson, the coroner’s liaison for the BTP said: “Days before Mrs Batten went missing she believed she was still a district nurse and Mr Batten accepted he could not watch her 24 hours a day.
“She appears to have wandered onto the line and either fell down or lay down of her own accord and died of hypothermia.”
Mr Rose said: “I in no way criticise her husband for letting her go. Often she had gone missing and a telephone call would come when she was found. And he reported her missing the following day.
“She got to the railway line and lay down and I think that night she started to suffer from hypothermia.
“With cases such as these, people who suffer from hypothermia tend to feel they are over-heating and remove their clothing. The clothing was put under stones, probably by the deceased.”
He said the natural cause of death was unascertained.
He added: “The pathologist could not identify the cause of death although she could not have been in contact with a train.
“In all probability her death was due to dehydration with Alzheimer’s disease being a particular factor.”
Mr Batten said: “We would have been married 50 years this year. We had one daughter, and Edith adored her grandchildren and always wanted to know what they were doing.”