Mystery over death of former Norwich teacher

Mystery still surrounds the death of a former Norwich teacher who disappeared 16 years ago and whose bones were found by a schoolboy in February this year.

Christine Allen was aged 59 when she was last seen walking from her home at Marie Close, Cantley, on April 8, 1995.

Her remains were discovered on February 24 by schoolboy Billy Wright, who was playing football with his dad Simon in the garden of their home in Railway Cottages, Cantley.

An inquest held in Norwich yesterday heard that Mrs Allen had suffered from mental health problems, but Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong said it was not possible to establish a cause of death.

In a narrative verdict, Mr Armstrong said: 'I can't say when she died.

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'She was last seen on April 8, 1995. I am confident that the jaw bone belongs to her. It is impossible to establish the cause of death and it would be idle to speculate how she met her death. We can only hope she met it peacefully.'

Mr Armstrong also told the hearing: 'She had a history of chronic mental illness. She had clearly been deceased a long time. It appears that around 1981 she went to a psychiatric hospital. In 1995 her mental health deteriorated.'

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Mrs Allen had been married to Melvin for three years before she disappeared. Mr Allen said before her illness, his wife, who taught for eight years at West Earlham Junior School in Norwich, was a happy woman. 'When she was ill it wasn't the real her,' he added.

Mr Allen said that in the March before his wife disappeared, he had found her one night on the sofa in a 'drugged state'.

'I think she had drank something that she used to put on her hair but she recovered,' he added.

'She worried about her weight. She thought she was putting on weight when she was losing it.'

On another occasion in March, Mrs Allen, who previously lived in Cardigan Place, Norwich, before moving to Cantley, went outside in her nightdress and was in an 'anxious and highly-strung state', according to Mr Allen.

Mr Wright told the inquest how his son found Mrs Allen's remains.

'The ball went under some conifer trees which are adjacent to the railway fence. Billy said he had found a bone so I went to look, expecting it to be an animal, and it was clearly a human,' he said.

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