x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Teacher's death puzzles coroner

An Abu Dhabi-based primary schoolteacher who died in her apartment last year had ingested corrosive cleaning fluid, an inquest was told this week.

Emma Jones graduated from Greenwich University.
Emma Jones graduated from Greenwich University.

An Abu Dhabi-based primary schoolteacher who died in her apartment last year had ingested corrosive cleaning fluid, an inquest was told this week. But it might very well have been an accident. Emma Jones, 24, from Caerphilly, in South Wales, had been planning to return to the UK the night she died at her home in the capital in November. Her bags were packed and her passport was found in her jeans pocket.

According to British media reports, Jones's mother, Louise Rowlands, told the Cardiff coroner Thomas Atherton that her daughter was distressed at the time of her death after a former boyfriend posted "indecent" pictures of her on the social networking site Facebook. "He put a memory stick in the computer and copied some indecent images of Emma," Mrs Rowlands, 41, said, according to the BBC. "He put them on her Facebook and she said she was accused of prostitution by a man working at the school."

The inquest heard that a man working in the IT department of the school had seen the pictures, and Jones feared she would be reported to the authorities. Cosetta Kidd and Mona Moshqi, both colleagues and housemates of Jones, were with her the night she died. They said she had been extremely upset and acting erratically in the hours preceding her death and believe the pictures referred to by Jones's mother were posted by someone her daughter knew in the UAE.

"It was an acquaintance here," Ms Kidd told The National. "She said she knew this person who had put the pictures on Facebook and I remember her being very upset. "She kept saying she wanted to leave but was afraid if she went outside she would be put in jail. Mona and I were trying to calm her down. I was telling her to make sure she was leaving for the right reasons." Jones's former boyfriend Jamie Brayley, who is in his mid-30s and lives in the UK, admitted he had used Jones's computer but denied he had ever downloaded such pictures of her, saying she "wasn't that type of character".

An open verdict was declared by Mr Atherton, who did not believe Mr Brayley was to blame for Jones's death. He said she might have accidentally drunk cleaning fluid from an unlabelled container, believing it was water. "For whatever reason, Emma expressed concern that she was about to be arrested and put in prison," the BBC quoted Mr Atherton as saying. "She agreed the best course of action was to leave Abu Dhabi and return to Britain. Her clothes were out and her passport was in her pocket. That is not someone who is contemplating suicide."

Ms Kidd said she went to bed at 2am, Ms Moshqi an hour or so later. When she awoke at around 5.30am she found Jones standing in the kitchen, short of breath and unable to speak properly. The school's director and ambulance were called while Ms Moshqi attempted to revive Jones but she died shortly after paramedics arrived. Mrs Rowlands told the BBC that she welcomed the coroner's verdict. "She was one of the most sane people I know, very vibrant and bubbly, so I'm as happy as I can be with the verdict. There was no way my daughter committed suicide. She was a real go-getter, full of life.

"In the summing up, the coroner said it could be Emma had drunk from the wrong bottle. There were three different bottles found. One was a water bottle and he did not know if it was a sports bottle or a bottle you would get Evian in." loatway@thenational.ae