The torment of tragic Natasha's mum

The private torment of a housewife who killed herself on the same stretch of railway track where her daughter's body had been found weeks earlier was revealed yesterday, as an inquest heard she could not stand life without her beloved Natasha.

The private torment of a housewife who killed herself on the same stretch of railway track where her daughter's body had been found weeks earlier was revealed yesterday, as an inquest heard she could not stand life without her beloved Natasha.

When teenager Natasha Coombs first went missing, Joanne Coombs and her husband Gary, an insurance company manager at Norwich Union in Norwich, made high-profile appearances pleading for her to come home. She had gone missing after a night out with friends in Ipswich.

Throughout the public appeals the 41-year-old mother appeared composed before cameras as the couple held on to the hope the 17-year-old would be found alive and well.

But that hope disappeared after two weeks when Natasha's body was found near a railway line in Manningtree, Essex. It is thought she was hit by a train as she walked alongside the track.

However, the inquest at Chelmsford, Essex, heard that Natasha had threatened to throw herself in front of a train on the night she disappeared after learning that her boyfriend Josh Brennan had been to the cinema with a female work colleague. She had a history of depression and an “on/off” relationship with Mr Brennan.

The pain proved too much for Mrs Coombs and yesterday her widower told an inquest she “just wanted to be with Natasha”.

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She was found dead near the same spot on September 18 - police immediately launched an investigation into the possibility that the grief- stricken mother had taken her own life.

Mr Coombs, of Dovercourt, Essex, wept as he described the ordeal after Natasha vanished.

“It was hell. It was hell,” he said. “She was very strong for everybody else. That was Joanne. Every day, the emotion bottled up.

“Joanne wanted to be with Natasha. She firmly believed she would be together with her.”

At the time of her death, a number of tributes including flowers and candles were left near the spot where mother and daughter died. One note read: “I know you have left Gary, family and friends who loved you dearly, but I hope they will be able to take comfort that you and Natasha are at peace together. I hope you and Natasha are skipping in heaven together.”

The jurors were told that Mrs Coombs had driven to a spot by the railway line where the tributes had been left for her daughter and was seen in her car shortly before her body was found.

The court heard that Mrs Coombs left two notes and her husband was sure that she had killed herself.

Police said Natasha's body was found near Mr Brennan's home. They think she may have been making her way there along by the side of the line when she was hit.

Evidence showed that she had been struck by a train while walking at the side of the line rather than on it. Jurors concluded that Natasha died as the result of an accident - but that Mrs Coombs' death was suicide.

Both Mr Coombs and Mr Brennan described Natasha as “attention-seeking”. Neither thought she intended suicide - despite making the threat in a call to Mr Brennan's mother, Lynn.

Jurors heard that on the night she disappeared, Natasha made repeated attempts to contact Mr Brennan but his phone had been turned off. She told Mr Brennan's mother that if she could not contact him she would kill herself.

After the hearing, coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray told Mr Coombs: “Everyone in this courtroom realises that you have had to endure the most appalling loss - the loss of a daughter and a wife in such tragic circumstances is incredibly, inexpressibly dreadful.”

Mr Coombs told journalists: “There aren't any words that can be said to bring my lovely girls, Joanne and Natasha, back and I simply cannot put into words how much I miss the two of them and the happy and perfect life we had together.

“I will always love Natasha and treasure the memories we have shared. I hope and pray that Natasha and Joanne have found happiness together.”

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