Mystery injuries to woman sparked Doncaster murder probe, coroner told

A man who was arrested after his partner died at his Doncaster flat has told in an inquest he does not know what caused injuries found on her body.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 12:39 pm

Kelly Carroll, also known as Kelly Hancock, was found dead at the flat above a hairdressers on Carr House Road in October 13, 2019, after having rowed with parter Malcolm Watson the previous evening in the Salutation pub, heard the inquest.

Police were called, and officers arrested Mr Watson. He has never been charged with a crime.

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Police at the scene of their investigation after a body was found in a home at Carr House Road, near Elmfield Park, Doncaster on Sunday October 13. The death was being treated as suspoious and murder squad officers were investigating at the time

Investigating officer, Det Cons Jonathan Court, told the hearing there were concerns over marks which were found on Ms Carroll’s face, which she had not had the previous night, and it was thought no one else, other than Mr Watson, had been in the property.

They initially suspected she had been asphyxiated, due to marks on her mouth and nose.

But he said a medical report revealed Ms Carroll, aged 38, from Parkway, Armthorpe, had cocaine, alcohol, and potentially deadly levels of an anti-anxiety drug in her system, which could explain her death, and meant they could not say the facial injuries caused her death.

"That took away any chance of a murder charge,” he said.

Police at the scene of their investigation after a body was found in a home at Carr House Road, near Elmfield Park, Doncaster on Sunday October 13. The death was being treated as suspoious and murder squad officers were investigating at the time

"There are a lot of unanswered questions – we’ve not been able to answer everything.”

Ms Carroll had a history of mental illness and alcohol abuse and had attended hospital after several suicide attempts, medical records revealed. The inquest was told she had not engaged with mental health services following these incidents.

Mr Watson, aged 63, gave evidence at the hearing, and said they had rowed in the pub the evening before Ms Carroll was found dead.

He left the pub without her as a result. Ms Carroll, who had been crying, followed him later.

Police at the scene of their investigation after a body was found in a home at Carr House Road, near Elmfield Park, Doncaster on Sunday October 13. The death was being treated as suspoious and murder squad officers were investigating at the time

Mr Watson said he was already in bed when she returned.

He said he later got up, and found her sitting on the kitchen floor, with a knife and a bottle of alcohol. He said he took them away from her, and told her if she was starting to self harm, she should go to her parents house. He said he went back to bed, but awoke the next morning to find her dead on the kitchen floor, and called 999.

Assistant coroner Louise Slater asked him if he had any explanation for the ‘unusual’ marks found on Ms Carroll’s face and mouth. “No,” he said.

She asked if he caused the marks. He said: “No, definitely not”. Asked if he had anything to do with her death he replied: “No. Nothing whatsoever.”

Police at the scene of their investigation after a body was found in a home at Carr House Road, near Elmfield Park, Doncaster on Sunday October 13. The death was being treated as suspoious and murder squad officers were investigating at the time

Summing up, Ms Slater said for the cause of death, she appreciated toxicology offered a plausible cause from anti-anxiety medication combined with cocaine and alcohol toxicity, which had been explained by home office pathologist Prof Philip Lumb.

She added: “Prof Lumb remains uncertain about injuries to the lips, nose and tongue. There is not a satisfactory explanation of these injuries, and they can be a sign of smothering, although I accept there is no direct evidence this occurred, or that any assault that may have contributed to the death.

"I will concur, that the medical cause of death is undetermined.”

She recorded an open conclusion. “The exact circumstances of death remain unclear,” she said.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.