New mum drowned when son weeks old

Christopher J Beverley
Christopher J Beverley
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A MOTHER who fled from a Blackpool hospital drowned hundreds of miles away in the River Thames.

An inquest heard Annette Stevenson, from St Annes, had left Parkwood mental health facility just two months after giving birth to her son.

Staff at the unit, which is based in the grounds of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said the 37-year-old had appeared calm in the days running up to her disappearance and had even spoken of visiting her son later that week.

Parkwood staff had allowed Miss Stevenson to go for a cigarette with her father at the end of a corridor on July 6, 2009.

But just minutes later she wandered off and boarded a bus, telling her father she was visiting a friend.

The police were called but Miss Stevenson was not seen until the following day when she arrived at the Children and Parent Support Service (CAPSS) centre in Fleetwood, where visits to see her son were held.

Miss Stevenson was driven back to Parkwood by a member of staff who described her as “calm”.

Janet Kennedy, from the CAPSS centre, said: “She was singing along to songs on the radio.

“But the minute I pulled my car up to the door of Parkwood she said ‘I don’t want to go in’.

“I coaxed her to the door and buzzed the intercom. But when I buzzed a third time she walked off.”

Despite staff searching the area, Miss Stevenson was not seen again.

She was discovered in the River Thames at around 10.30am on July 8.

Miss Stevenson, a former Montgomery High School pupil, had lived independently in a flat on Park Road with the help of social services for the last eight years before being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and admitted into Parkwood.

In a statement, Miss Stevenson’s father, Melvin, told the coroner’s court: “She was a very intelligent girl but was always very sensitive.

“She had a breakdown and struggled to hold down a job, although she did try.”

Mr Stevenson said he thought hormonal changes during her pregnancy, medication not being administered while she was pregnant and then her son being removed from her care eight weeks after he was born contributed to the tragic events surrounding her death.

A jury returned an open verdict.

Christopher Beverley, Blackpool’s deputy coroner, added: “It appears Miss Stevenson was a very sensitive lady who had so much to look forward to.

“She had only recently seen the birth of her young son.

“Tragically he is never going to know the physical presence of his mother.

“But I hope the family will be able to share something of his mother’s life.”