Suicide verdict on Solihull woman who walked across M6 after blaming bedroom tax for stress

A coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide on the death of a Solihull woman who was hit by a lorry on the M6 after leaving her family a note which claimed the bedroom tax had caused her “considerable anxiety and stress”.

Stephanie Bottrill, 52, of Meriden Drive, Kingshurst, walked across the motorway and climbed a safety barrier early on the morning of 4th May last year and died as a result of multiple injuries suffered in the collision.

The former postal worker’s son Steven Bottrill claimed that she had blamed the Government’s housing policy for death in a suicide note – specifically the spare room subsidy or “bedroom tax”.

Birmingham and Solihull coroner Mr Zafar Siddique, summing up the evidence of her GP Dr Bindu Nair, said that when Ms Bottrill attended an appointment the day before she died, she had been “clear-headed” and given a frank account of a history of anxiety.

However she said she had expressed unhappiness at allegedly being given just half an hour to decide on a move by housing officials.

The inquest heard she had the option of a move from the three-bed address where she had lived for 20 years, to another a smaller property in Sheldon.

“She informed me she had called her children in the early hours of May 3 2013, saying she couldn’t cope with the stress and wanted to end it all, and had written a note planning to jump off a bridge,” the GP said, in his statement to the coroner.

Medical notes revealed Ms Bottrill had been seeing both a neurologist and her GP since 1993 with “stress and depression from her life circumstances”, her doctor said.

In 2005 she took an overdose of anti-depressants over concern about her family.

After the inquest, her brother, Kevin Owens said Ms Bottrill “wasn’t prepared to give somebody else a chance” of a larger home.

“For social housing to work it needs for everybody to take a turn,” he said.

“When you’re adequately housed by successive governments, and your needs are met, you must give somebody else a turn.

“It’s terrible that people in this country are cramped into one and two-bedroom flats with children while other people sit on three-bedroom houses.

“Our thoughts go out to the lorry driver whose life has been blighted by this, and we just wanted to pass on our thoughts to him.”

Mr Owens also disputed the claim his sister had made about being given half an hour to “make a decision” on a house.

“She wasn’t prepared to give somebody else a chance, as far as I’m concerned,” he added.

“Much has been written about ‘bedroom tax’ pushing her – it wasn’t, because prior to that she’d attempted suicide before and that hadn’t been reported before.

“It might have been the catalyst to push her but was it just an excuse she was looking for? – That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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