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Royal prank call nurse found hanging left three notes in Marylebone hospital staff quarters, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 16:09 13 December 2012 | UPDATED: 16:33 13 December 2012

Jacintha Saldanha

Jacintha Saldanha

PA Wire/Press Association Images

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 and had left three notes, an inquest has heard.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, a mother-of-two from Bristol, was found in her nurses’ quarters in Weymouth Street, Marylebone, by a colleague and a security guard on 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 was told.

Det Ch Insp 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 touch with their colleagues in Australia to interview witnesses to “put the best evidence before you” about the circumstances of the death.

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 March 26 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 Beaumont Street, Marylebone.

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.

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 Westminster Cathedral on December 15 and will be offered “for the repose of the soul of Jacintha and her grieving family,” a spokesman for Westminster Cathedral said, adding: “We would hope to hold a more formal memorial after the inquest has concluded.”

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM whose DJs made the prank call, has ended their show and suspended prank calls across the company.

Staff at SCA have reportedly been forced to move into safehouse accommodation and managers have recruited 24-hour bodyguards for their protection, with one letter specifically targeting DJ Michael Christian.

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