Woman's Richmond Hill Hotel death was suicide, coroner rules

A Spanish woman who committed suicide in a Richmond hotel had suffered a long battle with mental health problems, an inquest heard.

The body of Sylvia Griffiths Shick was found in a third floor room of the Richmond Hill Hotel on August 15 after she checked in the previous night, South West London Coroner’s Court was told.

Police were called to the hotel after the maid was unable to open the locked door and called a security guard, who found Ms Griffiths Shick.

Twickenham PC Amanda Corr, who was on the scene, told the inquest: “The bed was pristine. It hadn’t been slept in. The pillows hadn’t been moved, the toiletries in the bathroom hadn’t been used. There was lots of paperwork over the bed.”

Speaking after the hearing, her former landlady Rowena Chowdrey said: “She was a very intelligent woman. She was very private and quite stubborn. We got on really well but then she became more reclusive and would spend more time in her room.”

Miss Chowdrey said her tenant, who began living with her in April, was never late with her payments for the property in West Kensington but after her death she learned the 54-year-old had reached her overdraft limit and stopped receiving jobseeker’s allowance.

She said: “I think it all just got too much for her. She lived this sort of Walter Mitty lifestyle. She was a very private person and would never ask for help.”

She said Ms Griffiths Shick was interested in Christian Scientology – a group that believes sickness and death are an illusion and illnesses can be cured with the mind.

The inquest heard Ms Griffiths Schick, who had previously worked as a translator for the Spanish embassy, had been detained under the Mental Health Act and was suffering from persistent delusional disorder, but refused to take the risperidone she was prescribed.

Speaking at the inquest on February 15, coroner Jeremy Chipperfield, said: “It is beyond reasonable doubt that she took her own life.”

Landlady Miss Chowdrey said: “She was an immaculate woman and very well presented. If only she had asked for help then she might still be here today.”

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