A much-loved teaching assistant who was found hanged had earlier told a friend she felt ‘jealous’ of a colleague who had apparently killed herself, an inquest heard.
Mum-of-two Rachel Leicester had been fraught with worry about financial problems and had confided in a number of the colleagues she worked with at Lache Primary School before she hanged herself on April 16 last year.
Her husband Christopher had been out of work for two months at the time of her death and the house she shared with him and their children on Quarry Lane, Christleton, was up for sale.
The inquest, held at Chester Magistrates Court on Tuesday, heard how 48-year-old Mrs Leicester had a history of anxiety and had been taking medication including diazepam.
Mrs Leicester ‘loved’ her job at Lache Primary School and was ‘fantastic’ at it, according to her colleagues.
She had become close to other teaching assistants there and often confided in them about her worries.
One told the inquest Mrs Leicester had appeared worried about money for about a year and grew increasingly upset as time went on, although still managed to do her job well.
She would frequently use a classroom cupboard to cry and talk to colleagues about her worries.
In the past, she had expressed shock and disbelief when a former colleague was said to have hanged themselves.
But only weeks before her death, she expressed ‘jealousy’ towards that colleague ‘because now they have no more problems or worries’.
In the days leading up to her death, she spoke to her adopted brother about her troubles, who said she had seemed ‘considerably’ upset as she described her problems.
Her husband said he was not aware of how extensive her worries apparently were, describing her as ‘a very private person’ who clammed up when he tried to talk to her about it.
The family had spent a pleasant weekend together before her death, during which he described Mrs Leicester as ‘calm’, and said she had gone to visit her adoptive mother as she often did, at her sheltered accommodation in Winsford.
On Monday, April 15 she left for work at 7.15am as usual and sent her husband a text about their children.
When she did not come home that evening, her husband wasn’t overly worried as she often visited friends after school, but began to worry around midnight.
The next morning (April 16) he made calls to her adopted mother and to school, but nobody had heard from her.
Mr Leicester had a job interview in Manchester later that day but decided to stop off at his adopted mother-in-law’s previous home in Willaston on the Wirral to see if she had gone there.
There he saw his wife’s car and with the help of a neighbour, searched the house. Just as they were about to leave, Mr Leicester looked in the garage and discovered his wife’s body.
Expressing her sympathy to family members, Dr Janet Napier, assistant coroner for Cheshire said she was ‘saddened’ to conclude that Mrs Leicester died by hanging.
“Rachel had a history of anxiety and we know she had anxiety about money and her relationship at the time of her death,” she said.
“I have reached the sad conclusion that she took her own life while the balance of her mind was disturbed.”
At the time of Mrs Leicester’s death, staff at Lache Primary School paid tribute to her in a statement, calling her ‘a dearly loved colleague and friend’, who enjoyed her work with children at the school immensely.
“She will be greatly missed by everyone,” they said.