South West Wales

Screw in Llanelli woman's ashes 'not in body', coroner says

Carole Ann Denby and her husband Howard on their wedding day Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption Carole Ann Denby's left a note for her husband Howard before she died

A woman who was convinced a screw had been left inside her body after surgery may have killed herself by mistake in a cry for help, a coroner has ruled.

Carole Ann Denby, 63, had claimed that a screw was left in her ankle after surgery in 2006, causing lasting pain.

She took a fatal overdose in March 2014 and a screw was found after her cremation in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

Coroner Mark Layton said evidence established the item was not in her body at the time of her death.

Recording a narrative verdict following an inquest at Llanelli Coroners' Court, Mr Layton said he could not rule out whether her suicide was accidental, or a "cry for help" given the sense of despair and frustration at her perceived lack of care.

Mr Layton offered no explanation as to how the screw ended up in her ashes.

The inquest had previously heard Mrs Denby, died from acute respiratory failure, excessive use of the sleeping drug Zopiclone, as well as obesity and emphysema.

Mrs Denby had been regarded as generally well until she broke her ankle in a fall in woods in Carmarthenshire on 25 May, 2006.

She subsequently suffered mental health problems caused by recurrent infections in her leg and was found dead on 21 March 2014.

She had left a note for her husband indicating she wanted to end her life.

Image copyright Wales news service

Radiologist Dr Kathleen Lyons, an independent expert in the Llanelli inquest, said two screws used on Mrs Denby had been "completely removed".

Dr Lyons, who works at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales and had no involvement in Mrs Denby's treatment, examined the several X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans on her ankle.

Two screws had been inserted into Mrs Denby's ankle in July 2009. Over the following four years, the ankle slowly fused and the two screws were removed.

By 5 November 2013, there was "no metalwork left in the leg". The inquest heard the first screw was 86mm long and the second was 60mm.

Dr Lyons was shown a picture of the screw recovered from Mrs Denby's ashes, which was 45mm long and was asked if it could have been used in the surgery.

She replied: "I don't think that's the screw in her ankle". The coroner then asked if the screw had been left there after surgery but Dr Lyons said: "Unequivocally not, absolutely not, 100% not. An X-ray will never lie."

Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption The inquest heard Mrs Denby had persistent and painful recurring infections in her leg

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