Before Senior Coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray OBE
Essex Coroner’s Court (sitting at Council Chambers), Chelmsford

Opens Monday 9 November 2020, expected to last five days

Sharon Kelly was 44 years old when she died on 27 June 2019. She was found hanging by Essex Police and paramedics at her home in Colchester. Sharon had a history of mental ill health and was under the care of Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust (EPUT) at the time of her death.  The inquest into her death opens on Monday.

Sharon had spent most of her life in Essex and has been described by her family as the loveliest, kindest, happiest girl you could ever wish to meet. Sharon was an artistic person who enjoyed crafts and would spend hours creating beautiful handmade gifts for her family. She often found peace and solace in her children and granddaughter.

Sharon had a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and had previously been an inpatient on a mental health ward. Sharon had a history of multiple drug overdoses and self-harm. On the day of her death, Sharon’s daughter, Sian, contacted the Ambulance Service and phoned Sharon’s mental health carers to alert them to concerns of Sharon’s suicide risk, following a phone call with her mother. It took nearly three and a half hours from Sian’s initial call, for paramedics to enter Sharon’s home.

In the weeks leading up to her death, Sharon disclosed to her EPUT case workers that she had purchased materials to hang herself. She refused to hand this over when asked. In response to Sharon’s suicidal ideation and apparent planning, an urgent Mental Health Assessment was arranged to determine whether Sharon was a risk to herself. That assessment took place on 26 June 2019, the day before her death. EPUT psychiatrists carrying out that assessment decided that she did not meet the criteria for detaining her under the Mental Health Act.

Sharon’s family hope the inquest will examine:

  • The risk assessments and decisions taken by Essex Partnership Trust following Sharon’s considerable deterioration in the months, weeks and days ahead of her death.
  • The time taken for the Ambulance Service to enter Sharon’s property following the initial phone call.
  • The communication between the Ambulance Service and the Police on 27 June.

Susan Walkinshaw-Kelly, mother of Sharon, said: “I am devastated by the loss of my beautiful daughter Sharon. I am still confused as to the decisions that were made prior to her death. I felt that she was clearly suicidal and posed a high risk of harming herself. I hope the inquest provides proper scrutiny of the mental health, ambulance and police services and considers whether my daughter’s life could have been saved.”

David Gabell of Fosters solicitors said: “This is an incredibly tragic case which sadly raises a number of important questions about the decisions made by the police, ambulance and mental health services. It’s important that any and all errors made by these services are brought to light, not just for the sake of justice for Sharon, but also to prevent such tragedy’s from happening again.”



For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact INQUEST Communications Team: 020 7263 1111 or [email protected].

A photo of Sharon is available here.

The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members David Gabell of Fosters Solicitors and Jon Metzer of 1 Crown Office Row. The family are supported by INQUEST caseworker Bola Awogboro.

The other Interested Persons represented at the inquest are East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and the Chief Constable of Essex Police.

Journalist should refer to the Samaritans Media Guidelines for reporting suicide and self-harm.