RETIRED secretary Patricia Hampton died after covering her body in petrol and setting herself on fire at her home in Minchinhampton, an inquest heard.

Patricia Hampton, 66, had agreed to seek psychiatric help only days before the incident on May 18 this year, the inquest was told on Thursday, September 20. She burned to death on the patio of her home in Cambridge Way after buying petrol from a local garage while her husband David went swimming.

The hearing at Gloucester Coroners Court was told that Mrs Hampton began suffering episodes of depression and anxiety after her mother’s death 20 years before and that she had been treated successfully for these with anti-depressants.

Her son Christopher said that in the week preceding her death, she had confided in David that it was ‘almost inevitable’ that she would take her own life.

Her son-in-law Andrew Dellow added that his wife Rebecca was present at her mother’s house when a doctor prescribed her stronger anti-depressants.

He said it appeared the medication was working when, on the morning of the day she died, she said she was going to help at the Christian Aid charity shop she had worked at before.

"Later Becky phoned me," said Mr Dellow. "She was hysterical and I could not understand what she was saying at first but then I heard there was a fire at Pat and David’s house."

Found among Mrs Hampton’s possessions was a small ring-bound notebook in which she had kept a diary entitled ‘descent in to hell and /or madness.’ Returning a verdict of suicide, Gloucestershire deputy coroner David Dooley said he felt sure of Mrs Hampton’s intention to take her own life, specifically because she went to buy the cans of petrol herself and took them home where she knew her husband was out and she was unlikely to be disturbed.