Coroner’s appeal after Heacham gun death

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A CORONER is asking Norfolk police to consider reviewing the scope of firearms licence applications after a woman died from shooting herself, an inquest heard.

Pamela Thomas, 59, from Marea Meadows, Heacham, who had a long-standing history of anxiety and depression, was found dead in her garage by her husband on May 3.

Speaking at the hearing at Lynn County Court on Thursday her husband, Aubrey Thomas, said he owned seven guns, which were stored in three cabinets in the garage.

The businessman said only he knew where the keys to the cabinets were kept and he hid them after his wife took an overdose of tablets in March.

His shotgun licence had been renewed in January and he had been granted this particular licence for 40 years, the hearing was told.

Speaking at the end of the inquest, Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: “She must have found the keys and must have shot herself.

“It may have been she was planning it for some time but what she did was unpredictable as far as everyone else is concerned. No-one is to blame for her death. She had a loving family.”

He said there was “no deficiency” in the procedure when Mr Thomas received his latest firearms licence.

But he added: “I have noted that when someone applies for a gun certificate the police will ask questions of their character. There is no obligation to ask about the physical or mental health of everyone in the household.”

Mr Armstrong said at the time the licence was granted Mrs Thomas had not made an attempt to take her own life, but she had been suffering from depression for a long time.

“For a woman to kill herself with a gun is a very rare event,” he said.

The coroner told the hearing this was one of three shotgun suicides in a short period of time and he proposed to ask the chief constable in Norfolk to look at how firearm licences are issued.

Mrs Thomas was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 1994 and was later diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

A medical report from her GP, Adrian Clifton, said she had made good progress on her increased anti-depressants, following her attempted overdose in March which she “regretted”.

Mr Thomas told the hearing his wife had been shopping the morning before she died.

“On that day she was best I had seen her for years,” he added.

Mrs Thomas was due to attend a Masonic meeting that evening in Castle Rising, but when Mr Thomas returned from a similar meeting that night he discovered her in the garage with a gun across her legs.

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide from anxiety and depression.