A HEREFORD man with a history of mental illness died in a bath at the hospital he voluntarily admitted himself to after police had found him in a river.

An inquest at Hereford Town Hall this week heard Christopher Bowen, 48, of Westminster Avenue, had a history of mental illness for many years and had engaged with numerous medical professionals.

He was admitted to Mortimer Ward of the Stonebow mental health unit as a voluntary patient on April 18 2014 after being found by police and, after his apparent immersion in river water up to waist level.

Then on April 20, Mr Bowen absconded from the unit and was again found by police near to the river.

Mr Bowen had reported to staff on April 28 he had considered putting his head under the bath water that morning.

At approximately 5.30pm on April 30, Mr Bowen went to a bathroom at the unit, having informed a member of staff that he intended to have a bath.

At around 5.47pm staff went to check on him and found he was face down in the bath. He was confirmed dead at the scene.

Mr Bowen’s wife, Jackie Bowen, told the inquest that she been in the day room with her husband at the unit on April 26 when he told her he sometimes felt like ‘slipping under the water’ when he was in the bath.

She told a member of staff but was told it was ‘just part of his depression’.

She added that her husband would not normally take baths as he said it was sitting in ‘dirty water’.

The inquest heard Mr Bowen told a nurse on April 28 he wanted to put his head under bath water, but this was not recorded in the notes on April 30 of a multi-disciplinary meeting regarding Mr Bowen.

Psychiatrist Dr Christopher Fear said this was talked about but omitted from the notes.

Jo James, Mr Bowen’s named nurse, said a record of what Mr Bowen had said was put into his progress notes – a ‘first port of call’ for staff on the ward – but had not been noted in his care plan.

She said Mr Bowen took ‘a couple’ of baths daily, and said he found them relaxing.

She did not want to take away something that was therapeutic to him as he had said he felt safe in that environment.

A further risk assessment was not carried out after he had raised the issue because staff were already aware of his interest in water.

A consultant pathologist concluded the cause of death was vagal inhibition and immersion.

Deputy coroner for Herefordshire, Roland Wooderson, recorded a narrative conclusion.

In a statement released to the Hereford Times after the inquest, Mrs Bowen, represented by Lanyon Bowdler at the inquest, paid tribute to her ‘loving husband’, a ‘dedicated and caring’ father of two.

“He suffered an untimely death and we miss him every day,” she said.

“He became a voluntary inpatient at the Stonebow Unit where we as a family believed he would have been safe and protected from further harm.”

She thanked the coroner for investigating her husband’s death.