Averil Hart: 'No link' found yet between eating disorder deaths

Averil Hart Image copyright Justice4Averil
Image caption Averil Hart went to the University of East Anglia to study creative writing

A coroner investigating five eating disorder-related deaths has yet to find a "definitive link", a court heard.

Sean Horstead, assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire, is overseeing the inquest into the death of Averil Hart, 19, from Suffolk, who died in 2012.

Miss Hart had anorexia and experienced rapid weight loss while at university.

Mr Horstead told a pre-inquest review he was keeping an open mind about a link to four other similar deaths but that the "potential" was "obvious".

A parliamentary health ombudsman report in December 2017 said Miss Hart's death had been preventable.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) has apologised to her family.

Image copyright Justice4Averil
Image caption Averil Hart lost a third of her bodyweight after starting university

Mr Horstead is also overseeing the deaths of Amanda Bowles, 45, Madeline Wallace, 18, Emma Brown, 27, and Maria Jakes, 24.

Ms Bowles' death predated the publication of the ombudsman's report, in September 2017, while the other three deaths occurred in 2018.

"I have up until this point, and including this point, made no findings or determinations about any definitive link between any of the cases I'm currently reviewing," Mr Horstead told the hearing in Huntingdon.

"That's not to say, however, that there may emerge themes that are common to more than one of the inquest proceedings that I'm currently reviewing and have conduct in respect of.

"The potential for themes common to one or more of these to emerge is obvious."

The pre-inquest review into the death of Miss Hart was adjourned until 2 March for a full inquest hearing that is expected to last three weeks.

Pre-inquest review hearings in the other four cases are expected to be heard this week.

  • If you are affected by any of the issues in this story you can talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by calling its adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

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