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Woman's body in canal left for hour because police assumed her dead

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A woman who drowned in a canal was left face down in the water for more than an hour because police officers assumed she was dead, an inquest heard.

Passers-by found Margaret Ganley's body floating 2ft from the bank in the Broad Street canal basin in Wolverhampton on July 24 last year. But the inquest in Smethwick was told that the first police officers to arrive at the scene declared the 71-year-old dead while she was still in the water.

One officer ordered an ambulance crew to leave.

A transcript of a call from a sergeant to the fire service revealed the officer told a controller 'on four or five occasions' that the woman was dead.

Chief Insp Darren Walsh told the inquest both officers made statements that they tried to reach out to Mrs Ganley's body but could not get to her because she was trapped in the undergrowth.

Firefighters were instructed to remove the body at 7am by Det Sgt Carl Russell of Force CID. An ambulance crew returned to the canal and Mrs Ganley was pronounced dead.

Mother-of-four Mrs Ganley was identified nine days later when her children, who live in Hemel Hempstead, told police they were unable to contact her.

Her son, Martin Ganley, said his mother, who lived in Jeffcock Road, Penn Fields, had suffered bouts of depression after her husband's death from cancer in 2012.

A post mortem revealed the medical cause of death to be drowning.

Senior Coroner Mr Robin Balmain said: "I don't propose to give a verdict that she killed herself. And open verdicts are unsatisfactory. For the record I will say that she was found dead in a canal, with no suspicious circumstances, but there was insufficient evidence to explain how she got there."

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