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Cancer mystery over teacher found hanged at Rowley Regis home

A teacher who told colleagues she had cancer hanged herself, an inquest heard, but a post mortem could find no sign she ever had the disease.


Joanne Bunn was found hanged in the garage of her home in Perry Park Road, Rowley Regis, in October.

The 37-year-old English teacher told colleagues at Kingsbury School and Sports College she had stomach cancer.

She took time off work and shaved her head, but wore no wig. The inquest in Smethwick yesterday heard that neither the pathologist nor the GP could find any evidence of cancer.

Miss Bunn's friend and colleague Margaret Martin, who discovered Miss Bunn's body when visiting her home after school, had told the hearing that Miss Bunn said her cancer had spread to her spine and brain.

Meanwhile, headteacher Catherine O'Driscoll said she had met with Miss Bunn, who was not married and had no children, on several occasions to discuss her health.

"I was made aware in July she had cancer and we had a series of meetings because she wanted to remain in school," she said.

Ms O'Driscoll said Miss Bunn was a respected teacher and the quality of her work had not deteriorated. Miss Bunn's father, Roger, said his daughter had not told him she was suffering with cancer, saying the pair had been practically 'estranged' since the funeral of his mother a year ago.

He said this was in relation to a disagreement over who should go to the crematorium after the service. Before this they used to speak every day, he said.

"It has been a very difficult five or six months," he said. Asked if she had any financial problems he added: "If it was financial I would have seen it. I just don't know."

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain recorded a verdict of suicide.

"It is clear on the post mortem the death was due to hanging," he said. "The circumstances seem unclear.

"It's puzzling that this lady had reported she was suffering from cancer but the GP knows of no treatment and the pathologist has not found any evidence of it."

Before working at Kingsbury School and Sports College, Miss Bunn worked at Castle High School in Dudley.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Bunn said: "She was the most fantastic teacher.

"She lived for it. She was well respected by parents and staff."

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