Royal phone hoax: Inquest hears nurse Jacintha Saldanha was ‘found hanged’ in her room
The nurse duped by a prank phone call to the hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was found hanged, an inquest has heard.
• The nurse left three notes that were discovered in her accommodation near King Edward VII Hospital
• Jacintha Saldanha was found by a colleague and a security guard
• There are no suspicious circumstances at this time, say police
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, a mother of two from Bristol, was found in her nurses’ quarters by a colleague and a security guard last Friday. There were also marks on her wrist.
Two notes were found in her room and another was among her possessions, Westminster Coroner’s Court in London was told yesterday.
Detective Chief Inspector James Harman said: “At this time there are no suspicious circumstances.”
Police were also looking into telephone calls and e-mails to see if they threw any light on the death, Mr Harman said.
DCI Harman 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 relatives was 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 two Australian DJs into believing they were the Queen and the 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. The duchess was being treated for severe pregnancy sickness.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is campaigning on behalf of the family, has written to the chief executive of the Australian radio company, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Rhys Holleran, calling for the full facts.
Mr Vaz 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.”
A mass will be held for Ms Saldanha at London’s Westminster Cathedral today.
SCA has ended the Hot 30 show of the two DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and suspended prank calls across the company. Staff have been forced to move into safehouse accommodation and managers have recruited 24-hour bodyguards for their protection, according to reports.
Australian website news.co.au said police had launched an investigation due to staff receiving death threats, with one letter specifically targeting Mr Christian. The letter reportedly said there were “bullets out there with your [Christian’s] name on” and contained further threats involving a shotgun.
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.”
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