Mina Topley-Bird: Singer found dead after 'psychotic episode'

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image copyrightFamily Handout
image captionMina Topley-Bird was on a train to London from a gig in Newcastle when she fell ill, the inquest heard

A singer was found dead in hospital after a mental health episode on a train following a concert with her band, an inquest has been told.

Mina Topley-Bird, 24, was found hanged at Darlington's West Park Hospital on 9 May 2019.

Durham Miner's Hall heard that the daughter of musicians Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird had felt a gig went badly and people had laughed at her.

The inquest, expected to last four days, continues.

Giving evidence, Miss Topley-Bird's aunt, Lisa Conlon, said her niece was diagnosed with schizophrenia shortly after she turned 18 and had to put plans to study for a degree on hold.

Ms Conlon said: "She told me she did not want to die but she was scared because the voices in her head never went away - she felt an overwhelming urge to kill herself."

Miss Topley Bird, lead singer with the band 404, had performed at a gig in Newcastle three days before her death.

While on a train home to London she suffered a psychotic episode and got off at Darlington station.

image copyrightFamily handout
image captionMina Topley-Bird's aunt said she had told her she felt an "overwhelming urge to kill herself" before she died

Friend and band-mate Brendan Murphy left the train with her and took her to hospital after she tried to walk in front of fast-moving cars, the inquest heard.

Mr Murphy said that while they were in the Accident and Emergency unit of Darlington Memorial Hospital, the singer grabbed a pen and tried to stab herself in the neck.

He said his friend had not been drinking or taking drugs.

Miss Topley-Bird was assessed and transferred to a secure ward at West Park Hospital where she received treatment voluntarily and was not detained under the Mental Health Act, jurors were told.

Outlining the case, coroner James Thompson said: "She was well-travelled and clearly a talented young woman.

"She had sadly suffered from mental illness for some years."

In a statement, Det Sgt John Tyers of Durham Police said Miss Topley-Bird had believed the gig in Newcastle had gone badly and people had laughed.

He said there was no third party involvement in Miss Topley-Bird's death and she had a history of self-harm due to mental health issues.

He said hospital staff had found her in her room and tried in vain to save her.

image captionMina Topley-Bird was the daughter of musician Tricky and trip hop singer Martina Topley-Bird

The coroner said the inquest would examine how Miss Topley-Bird came to be assessed at Darlington Memorial Hospital and her admission to West Park Hospital which is run by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Mental Health Trust.

It would also hear about how information was shared with the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, which had previously treated the singer, and what measures had been taken to transfer her back to London.

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