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Winchester woman died in 'uncertain circumstances', inquest rules
3:00pm Monday 4th March 2013 in News
THE daughter of a Hampshire aristocrat died in uncertain circumstances, a coroner’s court has been told.
The court heard that Mary Jane Portal died at her home in the summer last year, but the exact date of her death was impossible to determine because she was not found for some time.
The daughter of Sir Francis Portal and Jane, Lady Portal, 56-year-old Miss Portal had a history of schizophrenia and lived alone in an apartment on Norman Road, St Cross.
At the hearing in Winchester on February 27, both Lady Portal and Dr Shehzad Khan, who had cared for Miss Portal at Melbury Lodge, said she had no history of suicidal tendencies.
Dr Adnan Al-Badri, consultant pathologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, told the court that the post-mortem showed no evidence of “foul play or suicidal attempts”, leading him to speculate that her death could have been a case of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.
Miss Portal said she had spoken with her daughter about ten days before she was found by PC Nick Lark, who was alerted by neighbours who had noticed flies and a strong smell coming from Miss Portal’s apartment.
The court heard that Miss Portal was identifiable only via dental records, the decomposition of her body having been exacerbated by several electric heaters.
Lady Portal told the hearing: “She never drank anything. She would not discuss herself, ever, but she was a very keen Christian so she would not think to take her own life.”
Deputy Coroner for Central Hampshire, Simon Burge, said: “We’re in the realms of speculation so I cannot do anything other than record an open verdict,” he said.
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