Inquest: British Nurse in Suspected Suicide Left Notes, Found Hanged Following Prank Call

A Westminster Coroner's Court has found that Jacintha Saldanha hanged herself following an Australian radio show prank call to the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.

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STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

An undated family photograph of Jacintha Saldanha, the Indian-origin nurse who died after being hoaxed by an Australian radio show trying to reach Prince William's wife in London.

Updated: Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:20 a.m. EST

The nurse who put through a prank phone call at the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge was found hanged in her room, police told an inquest into her death Thursday. According to the BBC, Jacintha Saldanha was found dead in her room in a nurses’ housing complex close to the King Edward VII hospital in London on Dec. 7, three days after an Australian radio show played a hoax pretending to be members of the royal family.

“On Friday 7 December Jacintha Saldanha was found by colleagues and a member of security staff,” Detective Chief Inspector James Harman told the formal opening of the inquest into Mrs. Saldanha’s death. “At this time there are no suspicious circumstances apparent to me in relation to this death.” There were also injuries on the nurse’s wrists, the coroner has found.

(MORE: “Shattered”: The Australian DJs Behind Royal Prank Call Apologize)

Two apparent suicide notes were found in Saldanha’s room while a third was allegedly discovered among her belongings, the Westminster Coroner’s Court was told. In one of these notes, Jacintha reportedly criticizes the staff at the King Edward VII hospital over her treatment following the prank call, reports the Guardian. The second allegedly details how she failed to come to terms with the hoax carried out by the Australian radio station, 2Day FM, and the third supposedly lays out details and requests for her funeral. Her family was given typed copies of the three handwritten notes by the police and are aware of the contents. Additionally, “there are a number of emails that are of relevance in helping us establish what may have led to this death and we are also looking at the deceased telephone contacts,” said Inspector Harmon. Saldanha’s body was identified by her husband Ben Barboza, an accountant in the southwest city of Bristol.

After Thursday’s initial statements, the inquest was adjourned until March. Detectives have meanwhile spoken to a number of witnesses; toxicology and histology test results from Saldanha’s autopsy are still pending.

Jacintha Saldanha had been working at the hospital for more than 4 years when she took the prank call in the early hours of Tuesday, Dec. 4 from two Australian DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, from the Sydney radio station 2Day FM. She leaves behind two teenage children, aged 17 and 14, who live in Bristol. Labor MP Keith Vaz, who is acting as the family’s spokesman, told the press that the family are “grieving in their home… they are comforting each other and the community is comforting them,” reports the Guardian.

(MORE: Australian Radio Show Pledges $525,000 to Family of Nurse after Prank Call)

Vaz has reportedly written to Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of 2Day FM’s parent company, claiming that the company failed to make direct contact with the family, writes the Daily Mail. He accepts that there has been a public apology but is “disappointed” that the company, Southern Cross Austereo, failed to “take any steps to assist the family.” Vaz, who also met with Lord Glenarthur, chairman of the hospital where Saldanha worked, said that the current hospital internal inquiries have not been sufficient. “There are unexplained circumstances. The family wants to know everything. The hospital needs to be more proactive, a full inquiry is needed and the family need to be included in that.”

The radio station has pledged more than $500,000 for a memorial fund to the family, in the form of all advertising profits on the show for the rest of the year.