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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Kate prank call nurse was founding hanging in her room with marks on her wrists, inquest told

Helen William

Published 13/12/2012 | 11:25

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THE nurse who was duped by a prank call from two Australian radio DJs to the hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was found hanging, an inquest has heard.

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Jacintha Saldanha, 46, a mother-of-two from Bristol, was found in her nurses' quarters by a colleague and a security guard on Friday.

There were also marks on her wrist.

She had left three suicide notes for her family and had also written emails which help explain why she took her life, the court was told.

Detective Chief Inspector James Harman said: "On Friday 7 December Jacintha Saldanha was found by a colleague and a member of security staff. Sadly she was found hanging.

"There was also injuries to her wrist. The London Ambulance Service was called to the scene. At this time there are no suspicious circumstances."

Detectives are also looking into telephone calls and emails to see if they throw any light on the death, Mr Harman said.

He told the Coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, that Scotland Yard detectives would be in contact with their colleagues in Australia to interview witnesses to "put the best evidence before you" about the circumstances of the death.

He said: "I can expect in the very near future to be in contact with colleagues in New South Wales."

The body of Indian-born Ms Saldanha had been visually identified by her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, the court heard.

None of Ms Saldanha's heartbroken relatives were at the five-minute hearing but they were not forgotten by the coroner.

As she set a provisional date of 26 March next year for the next hearing, Dr Wilcox told family representatives in the court: "I would like the police to pass on my sympathies to her family and everybody who has been touched by this tragic death."

Ms Saldanha had been fooled by the two DJs into believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales during the prank call to the King Edward VII's Hospital in London.

She had unwittingly transferred the call from the Sydney-based station 2Day FM to a colleague, who described in detail the condition of Kate, who was being treated at the time for severe pregnancy sickness.

Ms Saldanha's body was released after the hearing.



A Westminster City Council spokesman said: "The body was released to the undertakers on behalf of the family at approximately 11am."









Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is campaigning on behalf of the family, has written a letter to the chief executive of the Australian radio company Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Rhys Holleran, calling for the full facts.

Mr Vaz, who arrived after the hearing, said outside court: "I have not received a response so I think we will need him to respond.

"If you write a letter and you have questions, you really want answers, and that is all the family has wanted - the full facts - as you would want in a circumstance like this."

A mass is to be held for Ms Saldanha at London's Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.



The mass will be offered "for the repose of the soul of Jacintha and her grieving family," a spokesman for Westminster Cathedral said.



"We would hope to hold a more formal memorial after the inquest has concluded."



The DJs behind the hoax call - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - have given an emotional account of their reaction to Ms Saldanha's death.



Interviewed on Australian TV networks, the presenters said their prank call to the hospital had "a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected".



Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, has ended Greig and Christian's Hot 30 show and suspended prank calls across the company.

Meanwhile, staff at SCA have been forced to move into safehouse accommodation and managers have recruited 24-hour bodyguards for their protection, according to reports.



Australian news website news.co.au said police have launched an investigation due to staff receiving death threats, with one letter specifically targeting Christian.



The letter reportedly said there are "bullets out there with your (Christian's) name on" and contained further threats involving a shotgun.





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