Killer mum Rachel James 'set herself on fire' on train
A woman who killed her five-year-old son set fire to herself in a train's toilet cubicle on the 14th anniversary of his death, an inquest has heard.
Rachel James, 43, of Uxbridge, poured petrol over herself on a Northampton to London train in April last year.
She had spent 10 years in a secure unit after stabbing Perry Philips to death in her flat, the Bedford inquest heard.
She also attempted to murder her son Aaron, nine, during the same incident in Hemel Hempstead, Herts, in 1997.
Bedfordshire deputy coroner Bob Amos recorded a verdict that she took her own life.
Passenger Christopher Gardener told the inquest he heard a "powerful whooshing noise" after Ms James went into the cubicle.
"A flash flame went past me very, very quickly," he said.
"I went to the toilet door and flames were coming out.
"She was screaming, not for help but screaming in agony. I couldn't open the door."
He said he pulled the emergency stop button, jumped out of the train and ran to the cab to alert the driver.'Depressed about anniversary'
Thick black smoke was coming from the carriage, he said.
The train's 40 passengers escaped unharmed and walked over the tracks for the few hundred yards to Leighton Buzzard station in Bedfordshire.
Marlene Glover, said her friend Ms James had stayed with her in Milton Keynes the previous night.
She and her husband John agreed to accompany her to Leighton Buzzard on her train journey back to London.
Mrs Glover said Ms James was depressed about the anniversary but had told her: "I have got to face it."
She said she had wanted a family life but had failed in her bid to make contact with Aaron.
The inquest heard that Ms James had had two more children, both of whom were adopted at birth.
On the day before she died, Ms James left a suicide note with a friend, along with savings books for her children.