Glasgow & West Scotland

Woman found dead in bath 'should not have been left alone'

Margaret Gilchrist Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption The hearing heard Margaret Gilchrist struggled to get in or out of a bath

A woman found dead in her bath was "heavily reliant" on care workers who should not have left her alone, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

Margaret Gilchrist, 50, had severe learning difficulties from birth, was registered blind and had epilepsy.

She died at her home in Carntyne Road, Glasgow - where she was cared for full-time - on 26 September 2013.

An occupational therapist who had previously assessed her said she was at risk of falling.

Barbara Anderson told Glasgow Sheriff Court that Ms Gilchrist struggled to get in and out of the bath.

She said she could hold on to rails but she did not believe she could easily turn a tap - if at all.

'Extremely upset'

Mrs Anderson was asked what risks there would be to Ms Gilchrist if her support worker had to deal with another resident in the house having a seizure.

Mrs Anderson replied the same risk anybody with a learning disability would have, and that someone should always be with her.

Asked to be specific, she said: "She (Margaret) could try to come out of the bath, she could cover herself in water, she could slide down into it."

The inquiry heard that Ms Gilchrist's care worker Mary Cameron was "extremely upset" when police were called to the house at about 20:10 on the night she died.

PC James McDonald said he spoke to ambulance staff at the house and saw Mary Cameron, whom he understood to be working there.

Procurator fiscal depute Brian Duffy asked what Mrs Cameron was like and the officer said: "She was sitting down getting comforted by two ambulance staff, she was extremely upset."

Mr Duffy asked the officer what he and the ambulance staff discussed.

The witness replied: "That a female, Miss Gilchrist, was dead within the bathroom area upstairs."

'Looked suspicious'

He said he was told their initial thought was that it looked suspicious, that it appeared rigor mortis had begun to set in and the woman looked to have scald marks on her body.

PC McDonald described the woman in the bath as having her knees appeared curled up towards her stomach and her hands were clenched, towards her chest.

He added: "Certain places, her shoulders, her sides and knee area I believe and her toe appeared to be scalded."

He said there was a "small trickle" of cold water coming from the tap.

The inquiry before sheriff Lindsay Wood continues.

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