Mum who worked at Walton jail and 'lit up room' found dead

By Amy Fenton & Tom Duffy

A young mum-of-two who worked at HMP Liverpool was found dead at her home in Lancashire.

Hannah Jean Elizabeth Martin, 25, was found on January 21 in 2019. Daniel Walton, the father of one of Hannah's children, smashed a window in order to gain access to the property in Bilsborrow, near Preston after a friend expressed concern for her safety.

Hannah, who had worked at HMP Liverpool since 2018, had a long history of mental health problems.

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At an inquest yesterday (October 6) at Accrington Town Hall Miss Martin's family described how she had suffered with mental health issues since the age of 13, reports Lancs Live.

Mum Louise Whelan said Hannah "lit up the room when she entered it and was the life and soul of the party".

She said: "But she wasn't able to cope with things at certain times and we were used to rallying round her and trying to make things better."

When Hannah was 15 she was admitted to hospital after taking an overdose and before her daughter was born in March 2011 she travelled to Germany in a bid to track down her father. Mrs Whelan told the court that Hannah was unable to trace her dad.

After working in a number of shops, including Littlewoods and Greggs, Hannah got a job as a prison officer at HMP Liverpool in 2018.

Hannah's mum said: "I was so proud of her,"

Hannah started seeing a fellow prison officer but the relationship ended in early December of 2018 because of his "highly manipulative personality", the inquest heard.

Best friend Rachel Burrow described how the two women, who met at school, usually saw each other "most days" but their level of contact reduced during 2018 because her boyfriend "had an issue with our friendship".

Miss Burrow said. "It was a toxic relationship. When they split up I think that because she worked with him, and had invested so much in the relationship, it wasn't easy for her to shrug it off. She wasn't herself.

"We always used to go out on little trips together, if we were just nipping to Sainsbury's for example, but around that time I remember asking her if she wanted to come with me to pick up a pram and she said 'no, I'm in bed, I'm tired'. We used to go Christmas shopping together but that year (2018) there was nothing."

On January 14, 2019, eight days before Hannah was found dead, her mum accompanied her to an appointment with her GP John Miles. Hannah had taken some notes with her, a copy of which was read out during the inquest, in which she had written details of her mental state and past treatment.

Mrs Whelan said: "She said she hadn't been honest (with him) before but she was going to be now.

"She wanted to come clean about how she was feeling and get some help."

Dr Miles was so concerned about what Hannah told him, including that she had considered "getting a flight" and running away, he called Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust mental health crisis team during his consultation with Hannah.

Not long after Hannah left the GP surgery in Garstang she received a call from mental health nurse Cath Lupton who carried out a telephone assessment. Mrs Lupton told the inquest that she would have considered Hannah to be 'medium' risk but noted she had protective factors, such as her two children, and so opted to book her in for a face-to-face appointment, the earliest available of which was on January 31.

The coroner noted that this 17-day gap was a "longer than average" waiting time for a non-urgent referral with the service, which is typically 10 days.

Seven days after Hannah had seen her GP, on January 21, Miss Burrow went to collect her own children from school. This was the same attended by Hannah's daughter, who saw the girl stood with the teacher.

"Something didn't sit quite right," Miss Burrow said during the inquest. "I tried ringing her, on her mobile and landline, but there was no answer."

Miss Burrow went to Hannah's home, where she met Daniel Walton, the father of one of Hannah's children. Mr Walton smashed a window in order to gain entry to the house where they found Hannah dead.

Hannah's brother Ben told the coroner that after his sister's death he looked through her internet search history, emails and diary entries. In the weeks before she died Hannah had attempted to research suicide methods.

"The impression you got was that Hannah was considering taking her own life but she didn't want any pain?" the coroner asked Mr Martin.

"Yes," he replied.

The inquest heard that on January 19, two days before she was found dead, Hannah had sent an email to Switzerland-based assisted dying clinic Dignitas in which she wrote: "I want to die. I don't want this life I have been given."

The inquest is expected to conclude on Friday.

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