'Bedroom tax' lorry death was suicide, coroner rules

Stephanie Bottrill The day before her death Stephanie Bottrill had agreed to see her GP about her anxiety

Related Stories

A woman who walked in front of a lorry on a motorway after leaving a note blaming government benefit changes took her own life, a coroner has ruled.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53, from Solihull, died in May last year after climbing over a safety barrier on to the M6.

Her family said she was worried about losing £20 a week through so-called "bedroom tax" housing benefit changes.

Her brother said she had tried to kill herself before and criticised her stance over the benefit changes.

Mrs Bottrill lived alone in a three-bedroom house and would have received less in housing benefit by being subject to what the government calls the removal of a "spare room subsidy", branded the "bedroom tax" by critics.

Stephanie Bottrill's house Stephanie Bottrill lived alone in her three-bedroom house in Meriden Drive, Kingshurst

In her suicide letter, Mrs Bottrill told her family she could no longer cope.

"It's my life, the only people to blame are the government," she wrote, before walking to the motorway, a short distance from her home in Meriden Drive, Kingshurst.

A post-mortem examination found she died as a result of multiple injuries.

A police investigation concluded there was nothing the lorry driver could have done to avoid Mrs Bottrill.

The coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, Zafar Siddique, said: "Given the evidence of notes left of her intention, I am satisfied she intended to take her own life."

Start Quote

Much has been written about bedroom tax pushing her ... it might have been the catalyst to push her but was it just an excuse she was looking for? ”

End Quote Kevin Owens Brother of Stephanie Bottrill

Mrs Bottrill, a grandmother and former postal worker, had agreed to see her GP the day before her death after her concerned daughter-in-law telephoned to make the appointment.

Mr Siddique, summing up the evidence of Dr Bindu Nair, said Mrs Bottrill had been "clear-headed" and given a frank account of a history of anxiety.

"She was still coming to terms about whether to move or have to pay extra to stay in her current property," said Dr Nair's report.

It added that Ms Bottrill was "happy to move but it was the way in which she was forced to make a decision" which had caused her "considerable anxiety and stress".

"She felt she wasn't given the time to make her decision".

Mrs Bottrill's brother, Kevin Owens, said he could not be sure his sister's actions were entirely due to her housing situation.

"Much has been written about bedroom tax pushing her - it wasn't, because prior to that she'd attempted suicide before and that hadn't been reported before.

"It might have been the catalyst to push her but was it just an excuse she was looking for?"

Kevin Owens, Stephanie Bottrill's brother Stephanie Bottrill's brother, Kevin Owens, said his sister "wasn't prepared to give somebody else a chance" to have a larger home

Mr Owens told reporters at the inquest that his sister "wasn't prepared to give somebody else a chance" of a larger home.

"It's terrible that people in this country are cramped into one and two-bedroom flats with children while other people sit on three-bedroom houses," he said.

Solihull Council had offered Mrs Bottrill another property to live in about six miles away and she was considering whether to move there at the time of her death.

A council spokesman said there was "never a requirement for Ms Bottrill to move".

Houses were not imposed on people, rather householders selected from a list of available properties and made bids on their choices and in Ms Bottrill's case she had been successful with two properties, they said.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "This is a tragic case. Our sympathies are with her family.

"There are often complex reasons as to why people may commit suicide and we would not comment further."

Samaritans told BBC News "although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is seldom the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several interrelated causes".

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country

Weather

Birmingham

12 °C 10 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    11:49: Pair denied fatal blow

    Danielle Cassin, 27, and Mark Piper, 31, both denied delivering a fatal blow to their 22-month-old son at their home in Chelmsley Wood, Solihull, in February 2013.

    Levi-Blu Cassin

    Levi-Blu Cassin (pictured), died from "catastrophic" internal injuries.

    At Birmingham Crown Court on Friday, the pair were cleared of his murder and manslaughter.

     
  2.  
    11:44: Parents jailed for toddler death BREAKING NEWS

    A mother and father convicted of causing or allowing the death of their toddler son Levi-Blu Cassin have each been jailed for nine years.

     
  3.  
    11:28: Shopkeeper stabbed in city BREAKING NEWS

    A Wolverhampton shopkeeper is in hospital after being stabbed multiple times last night.

    Police say the 51-year-old man's injuries are serious but not thought to be life threatening.

    The attack happened at Atwal Wines, in Bilston Road, at about 21:40.

     
  4.  
    11:18: Fire treated as suspicious

    The fire service says a blaze overnight at a Birmingham school is being treated as arson.

    West Midlands Fire Service says a large amount of equipment has been destroyed following the blaze at North Birmingham Academy, in Erdington.

    The school closed on Friday for the Christmas holiday and will reopen on 5 January, according to its website.

     
  5.  
    11:07: Judge considering sentence Giles Latcham Reporter, Midlands Today

    I'm at Birmingham Crown Court following the Levi-Blu Cassin case.

    His mother and father were cleared of the toddler's murder, but convicted of causing or allowing his death.

    Today they will be sentenced and the judge is now retiring to consider them.

     
  6.  
    10:57: News on the hour BBC WM

    In the news at 11:00: The West Midlands is going to be one of 11 places where experts in genetics will treat people with cancers and rare inherited diseases.

     
  7.  
    10:48: Street light cuts

    Street lights are being switched off or dimmed to save money in three-quarters of England's council areas, according to Labour Party research.

    A street light

    They've been dimmed at times in Birmingham for years and Dudley Council is planning to switch some off in 2016.

    It comes after councils warned of "huge financial challenges" after next year's government grants were announced.

     
  8.  
    10:35: Have your say Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to find out what you think.

     
  9.  
    10:17: Rubbish boss to have assets seized Joanne Malin Presenter, Midlands Today

    The boss of a waste firm who was jailed for failing to clear a rubbish pile in the Black Country is to have his assets seized.

    Rubbish piling high in Brierley Hill

    Robert McNaughton, the director of Refuse Derived Fuel, was jailed for six months for repeatedly failing to clear a 42ft (13m) tall pile of rubbish in Brierley Hill.

    Now a High Court writ's been granted, allowing for his and the firms assets to be seized.

     
  10.  
    09:58: News on the hour Steve Hermon Journalist, BBC WM

    In the news at 10:00 on BBC WM: A man has died in Staffordshire after being shot with a Taser by police.

     
  11.  
    09:33: Rowett wants keeper to stay BBC Sport

    Birmingham manager Gary Rowett plans to keep hold of Darren Randolph in January, despite interest in the in-form goalkeeper.

    Darren Randolph

    Rowett says: "Every player in my team has ambition and I want them to be ambitious.

    He adds: "If a Premier League club comes in for Darren, then fantastic, but I want to keep him."

     
  12.  
    09:13: 'Vicious attack on family man'

    Police are appealing for witnesses after a 40-year-old man was hit over the head with a brick in Stechford.

    Det Insp Neil Postins says: "This was a vicious attack on a local family man. It's an outrageous response to a verbal spat in the street. It's also a cowardly act to grab whatever he could lay his hands on and use it as a weapon.

    "The attacker may well have spoken about the incident to someone. If so, I'd ask them to do the right thing and get in touch."

     
  13.  
    08:55: News on the hour Steve Hermon Journalist, BBC WM

    Our top story at 09:00 on BBC WM: We'll hear from the NSPCC's head of child protection awareness, as a Birmingham couple are due to be sentenced for causing or allowing the death of their son in 2013.

     
  14.  
    08:48: Birmingham joins DNA scheme

    A new genetics project could help "unlock a series of secrets about devastating diseases", the NHS says.

    DNA

    Eleven Genomics Medicine Centres, including one in Birmingham, are being set up in English hospitals to gather DNA information to help devise targeted treatments for a wide range of diseases.

    The scheme is focusing on cancer and rare genetic diseases.

     
  15.  
    08:38: 'Severe' fire at school Caroline Gall BBC News

    Firefighters have been tackling a "severe" fire at a Birmingham school, believed to have been started deliberately.

    Fire at North Birmingham Academy, on College Road in Erdington

    Arsonists are thought to have set fire to two shipping containers outside the school, which led to lots of equipment being destroyed, West Midlands Fire Service said.

    Crews were sent to North Birmingham Academy, on College Road in Erdington, at 04:15 and say the fire was dealt with by about 06:00.

     
  16.  
    08:29: Man struck in head with brick

    A man is in an induced coma after being hit over the head with a brick as he walked to the shops.

    Stud Lane, at the junction with Church Lane in Stetchford

    The 40-year-old father, from Birmingham, was attacked in Stud Lane, at the junction with Church Lane (pictured) in Stetchford, at about 12:00 on Saturday.

    Police say it is understood the victim had a row with another man before he was struck with the brick and left unconscious in the street.

     
  17.  
    08:20: Couple due to be sentenced

    A couple are due to be sentenced later for causing or allowing the death of their son in 2013.

    Danielle Cassin, 27, and Mark Piper, 31

    Birmingham Crown Court was told Levi-Blu Cassin died from "catastrophic" internal injuries in February 2013.

    Danielle Cassin, 27, and Mark Piper, 31, of Chelmsley Wood, had both denied delivering a fatal blow to the 22-month-old and were cleared of murder.

     
  18.  
    08:07: Today's forecast Charlie Slater Weather Presenter, BBC East Midlands Today

    It will be windy, dull and cloudy for most of the day with a few showers thrown into the mix for good measure.

    Charlie Slater

    Very mild with highs of 12C (54F).

     
  19.  
    08:00: Good morning Stephanie Barnard BBC Local Live

    It's feeling quite mild this morning in Birmingham city centre, if not a little windy.

    I'm in the BBC WM newsroom bringing you the very latest news, sport, travel and weather.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.