A husband was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife in a domestic violence incident after she drunkenly fell over in their en-suite bathroom and hit her head, an inquest heard.
Tracy Bailey and her husband Austin had been sleeping in separate bedrooms in the week before she died, after they got into a ‘petty argument’ which was blown out of proportion, the inquest was told.
When Mr Bailey awoke on September 10 last year he found his 44-year-old wife laying on her right side on their bathroom floor, with her head against the side of the shower tray and a clear head injury.
In a statement to the inquest, Mr Bailey said: ‘I was distraught and did not want to believe that she was dead.’
Tracy Bailey (pictured) and her husband Austin had been sleeping in separate bedrooms in the week before she died, after they got into a ‘petty argument’ which was blown out of proportion, the inquest was told
The inquest heard how Mr Bailey had dragged his wife from the en-suite bathroom back into their shared bedroom, where he called 999 and was put through to the ambulance service.
Mr Bailey told the coroner: ‘They explained Tracy was dead and an ambulance would not be needed.
‘They told me someone would be in contact with me. Around 30 minutes later, two police officers came to my house.’
Detective Sergeant Liam Butler, of Thames Valley Police, told the inquest how the case had been referred to CID for review after Mr Bailey told police about the couple’s relationship difficulties.
A statement released by the force at the time of the incident told how a 45-year-old man from Marlow was arrested on suspicion of murder on September 14 last year.
Police searching the couple’s home in Cookham, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, said they found multiple 75cl bottles of Shiraz, Pinot Grigio and Malbec wine in Mrs Bailey’s bedroom.
Mr Bailey added: ‘I knew she was drinking, but never imagined this would be an issue so great as to contribute to her death.
‘It is now clear that Tracy was using my bank card every morning at about 7am to purchase a bottle of wine while I was asleep or in the shower.’
The couple had been partners for 22 years and married in July 2007, after Mrs Bailey had moved from her hometown of Limerick in Ireland to the UK, the inquest heard.
Mrs Bailey was a qualified hairdresser who had worked at the makeup counter in Boots as a sales assistant at the time of her death, while her husband was a company director, the coroner said.
Mr Bailey told the inquest in Reading: ‘I believe Tracy and I were soulmates and despite breaking up several times during our relationship we got back together after only a short period.
‘Tracy and I had what could be described as a rocky relationship especially towards the end of her life.
‘Tracy and I were sleeping in separate bedrooms. This was due to a very petty argument that was blown out of proportion and was not even important.
‘We did not speak much that last week. I could have been a bigger person and gone to speak to her to stop this childish behaviour.’
Mr Bailey told how he had left home for work on the morning, feeling frustrated after his wife had replied to him only by ‘mumbling something’.
The inquest heard how it was the following morning that Mr Bailey discovered his wife dead.
Mr Bailey was only absolved of blame after a toxicological report and a post mortem examination found evidence of the damage which Mrs Bailey’s drinking had caused to her body.
Reading from the toxicological report, Alison McCormick, the assistant coroner for Berkshire, told how Mrs Bailey had a ‘very high and potentially fatal’ level of Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in her blood, which would lead to symptoms of ketoacidosis.
She said: ‘There were concerns to the potential for domestic violence. The deceased did not attempt to break a fall by outstretching her arms with the consequence that the head took the full brunt of the impact.
‘There is insufficient evidence to support any form of sustained blunt force trauma assault.’
The cause of death given by the pathologist who carried out a post mortem examination had been head injury in association with alcoholic ketoacidosis and alcoholic liver disease.
Summarising the case Ms McCormick said: ‘There were occasions when Tracy suffered periods of low mood and anxiety and on occasion some of these were associated with issues that arose in her marital relationship with Austin, mental health issues associated with alcohol use.
‘In June 2019, Austin and Tracy were having some marital problems. They had split up and got back together again. They had periods of not speaking and periods where they were unhappy.
‘Tracy described suffering anxiety and problems in sleeping and it may be that caused her to turn to drinking as heavily as she did.
‘We do not know when Tracy passed away. On the morning of September 10 2019, Austin went to have a shower in the en-suite bathroom, he discovered Tracy’s body on the floor between the bathroom and the bedroom. There were no lifesaving opportunities.
‘The police report confirms many empty bottles of wine were found in the bedroom where Tracy was sleeping.
‘The police have confirmed to me there is no evidence of any third party involvement in Tracy’s death, which I accept.
‘Tracy was suffering from ketoacidosis in the period prior to her death. This is likely to have made her disorientate, it is likely to have made her prone to falling.’
The coroner concluded the death was accidental and alcohol related.