Metropolitan Police officers may have blundered over the death of a missing woman who drowned after she drove her car into an icy lake a year after she was allegedly raped by a work colleague, an inquest heard today.
Hannah Warren, 28, freed herself from her Mini Cooper and swam to nearby rocks, but fell back into the freezing water near a Tata Steel site in Port Talbot, the hearing was told.
Her body was found around 330ft from where the Mini convertible hit the lake on February 4, 2016 – a day after she was first reported missing from her home around 200 miles away in Streatham, south-west London.
Ms Warren’s family say Scotland Yard should have acted sooner after she was reported as acting ‘irrationally.’
A previous hearing was told the family lodged an official complaint with police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), regarding the force’s handling of the case.
Hannah Warren, 28, drowned after her car fell into an icy lake in Port Talbot
Her body was found around 330 feet from where the Mini convertible hit the lake on February 4, 2016
At the inquest yesterday, mother Jane Barnes said her daughter died almost a year to the day she was allegedly attacked by a work colleague.
The inquest heard the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation after Ms Warren was reported as missing and her car was later spotted by an automatic number plate recognition camera in south Wales.
Home Office pathologist Dr Ryk James said Ms Warren died as a result of drowning.
Coroner Edward Ramsay said the jury would have to decide whether the Metropolitan Police could have done more to protect her. He said it was ‘central to the case’ for the jury to consider whether or not more could have been done by the Metropolitan Police service in response to the concerns raised about her welfare.
Ms Warren, who worked at an office refurbishment company, vanished in her car at around 6am on February 3, 2016, and later texted her boss to tell him that she planned to resign from her job.
A Home Office pathologist said he believed that Ms Warren died as a result of drowning
She drove 200 miles to Port Talbot before crashing into the water from a quayside road that had no safety barriers, The Sun reports.
Her face and body were covered in bruises and grazes including on her neck, Dr James said. The expert suggested this may have been caused by the car’s seatbelt.
The pathologist also said there were ‘low’ levels of cocaine and cannabis in her system, while the hearing was told that she was in a ‘distorted’ state of mind at the time of her death.
Ms Warren’s mother said she had been raped by a work colleague in February 2015, almost exactly a year to the day before she died.
She said: ‘Hannah was raped by a colleague at work but I didn’t know about it until after she had died. She had told her younger brother James and it was James who told me. She had been having counselling but I didn’t know until I saw some notes on her iPad which were synced with her mobile phone which talked about the rape. I found one box of anti-depressants dated 2014 and only one tablet had been taken out.
‘She never spoke to me about it but in 2015 Hannah’s personality did change.
‘Every time I would make arrangements to meet her there would always be an excuse. There always seemed to be a reason that we couldn’t meet up.’
The Swansea hearing, expected to last 10 days, continues.