Distraught mother took own life over custody dispute

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A DISTRAUGHT mum tragically took her own life after the father of her youngest daughter stopped them seeing each other, a court heard.

Bolton Coroners’ Court heard how mum-of-two Zoe Scholes, who had a problem with alcohol, hanged herself on January 30 just days after she had been due to see her four-year-old daughter Kenzie, but never got to do so because the scheduled visit was cut short.

The 32-year-old Leigh woman had battled a drink problem for years which developed after a violent relationship when she was younger, but she had been clean for a number of months and seemed to be getting her life on track.

But in December 2010 she relapsed which resulted in her daughter being taken off her.

Her sister Kerry Mather told the court: “When Zoe broke up with Kenzie’s dad she found life very difficult and was very lonely living alone with two young children.”

She started to have disagreements with her two daughter’s fathers and in 2009 and 2010 she attempted suicide on about three or four occasions.

About a month before she died she hadn’t drunk for a while but around December 10 2010 she relapsed and on December 22 Kenzie’s dad took her because of this.

Later the same month Miss Scholes stopped drinking and went back to work at her job at the Pound Bakery and her family thought she was doing fine.

But her ex-partner changed his telephone number and stopped all contact between mother and daughter, which was something Miss Scholes, who also had a 12-year-old daughter, struggled to deal with.

Mrs Mather said: “I had been allowed Kenzie overnight and was going to take her to see her mum on Friday 28, but Zoe phoned to say that because it was late she’d see her tomorrow. But Kenzie’s dad came to pick her up early the following day so Zoe didn’t get a chance to see her.”

It was sometime in the next two days that she hanged herself after she had not seen her daughter for about six weeks.

On Saturday January 29 Miss Scholes’ neighbour, Suzanne Fowler, went to see her but she was extremely upset, Miss Fowler e returned to the address on Henrietta Street later that day but there was no answer.

Both she, another friend and Mrs Mather continued to try and make contact with her through the night but thought she might have gone to sleep.

In the morning on January 30 Mrs Mather and her husband Barry went back to the house to check up on Miss Scholes but there was still no answer, Miss Fowler said that she sometimes left the back door open, so her sister went to check.

It was then that she made the grim discovery along with a note addressed to her, in which she expressed a desire to take her own life.

Unlike previous suicide attempts Miss Scholes had not tried to make contact with a family member and was not under the influence of any alcohol, as confirmed by the pathologist.

Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh recorded that Miss Scholes took her own life by suspension by ligature.

He said: “I am sorry to Zoe’s family, particularly her children because although there must have been difficulties they and their mother were obviously very close until they left her custody.

“I am sorry for the distress this has caused her 12-year-old daughter and I am sorry for a four-year-old who will never know her mother as she grows up.”