A WOMAN with dementia suffered severe burns after running a bath too hot.

Janet Clarke, 85, was found unconscious in the tub at her Micheldever home on October 21 last year.

An inquest heard that the Southbrook Cottages resident was rushed to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, where she died the following day.

According to Dr Tanuj Lad, Ms Clarke suffered burns to 30 per cent of her body's surface and was unable to get out of the bath due to being in shock.

In a report he said that she was not stable enough to be transported to the burns unit from the emergency department and died from multiple-organ failure, with burns, frailty and dementia contributing.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said, in a letter to the coroner, that Ms Clarke had been in the tub for a "very long time". Her GP confirmed that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2019.

Ms Clarke had lived alone since the death of her husband in 2000. She had no children and "was never keen on the idea of social services".

"Aunt Janet was a physically strong and robust woman, who loved the outdoors and was a very good horse rider when younger," said a statement from her nieces, who live in Sussex.

"She was quite shy but enjoyed socialising when the opportunity arose. She was very independent but probably found it difficult when the dementia got worse."

Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson concluded the inquest as an accidental death.

He said: "It is very tragic to hear of a woman so very independent, but clearly suffering from the deterioration of her cognitive ability due to dementia for this terrible incident to occur."

Why we cover inquests

Coping with the death of a loved one isn’t easy – and grief can be exacerbated when the death becomes public record.

But there are important reasons why inquests are held in public and why the press attends and reports on them.

The press relies on coroner’s courts to make families aware that we may attend their loved one’s inquest. But here we will try and answer some of your questions about what will happen, what can be reported and why.

What is an inquest?

An inquest can happen when someone dies suddenly at home from natural causes, as well to investigate how someone died as a result of an accident, or other causes.

The Coroner needs to establish through their investigations who the deceased person was, when they died, where they died and how they died.

A coroner can call witnesses to give evidence or statements in the course of their investigations.

Inquests are not usually heard in front of a jury; however there are cases in which it is mandatory such as deaths in custody.

What can the press report?

Many families can be shocked or upset to find the press in attendance at their loved one’s inquest. But the press – along with members of the public – are legally allowed to attend and have done for more than 100 years.

Coroners courts are courts of law and reports of these are covered by something called absolute privilege. This means that a press report can contain any details given in open court, so long as the report is a fair, accurate and contemporaneous account of those proceedings.

Sometimes, a coroner can impose a reporting restriction on certain details. Judges can place a restriction on the naming of children in court. However, this restriction doesn’t apply when the child is deceased, so if it’s a child’s inquest, they can be named.

Reporters are allowed to make notes - either with a notepad and pen or on an electronic device - during proceedings. They can also use social media. Recordings and taking photographs are illegal (for anyone, not just the press) in court.

Can the press approach me at an inquest?

We are regulated by IPSO and the guidelines state that reporting on inquests must be done with sensitivity. Yes, the press can approach you at an inquest. Generally, reporters will not approach a family before an inquest as we know it’s a tough and emotional day. Afterwards, you may be approached by a journalist who will ask if you want to discuss the outcome and/or give a tribute to your loved one. Some families do want to do this, others don’t – both are perfectly understandable.

Journalists are duty-bound to include the facts of the case and must always report the coroner’s conclusion.

Reporters are mindful that we are reporting on someone’s death and that their family, friends and loved ones may read your article.