A DEATH in the Manchester Ship Canal has been tragically ruled a suicide at an inquest which took place last week for a beloved Lymm hairdresser.

Joanne Locke, 58, died in the early hours of May 23 last year, after being found in the Manchester Ship Canal.

An inquest was held at Cheshire Coroners Court last week, where Charlotte Keighley,assistant coroner for Cheshire, ruled the death of Joanne Locke as a suicide.

The 58-year-old’s husband, Gary Locke, was in attendance at the inquest, and stated that the best way he could sum up Joanne was something he said on his wedding day. He said: “When I met Joanne I won the lottery”.

Joanne was a part-time hairdresser, with a beloved clientele in Lymm, where her family were based. Gary went on to say that she was well known for being ‘generous and caring’, and fondly described how ‘she wouldn’t put the bins out without putting some mascara on’.

The couple were living in Reading at the time of her death but following his retirement had planned to move back up to Lymm, in part to be closer to Joanne’s family.

Joanne’s husband discussed how her mental health troubles had worsened in recent years. This included issues with anxiety and depression, which had led to a fixation on the recent case of Nicola Bulley.

He described how she had once said: “I know how Nicola felt”.

The 58-year-old history of mental health troubles culminated in an incident the evening prior to her death.

Herself and Gary had been visiting Manchester as a test run for his planned upcoming business idea for post-retirement involving transporting goods.

On the way back, Joanne had a severe panic attack and was taken to hospital after a previous recent episode.

After driving back from Manchester to Reading, having not slept for nearly a day, Gary fell asleep in the living room. He was awoken by Joanne on her way out the house, saying she was just popping out for some milk. This was, tragically, the last time he saw her.

Joanne proceeded to drive to Lymm and park at the family home they’d been slowly moving to. She gathered several photos and documents, put them in bags in her pockets, and went to the Manchester Ship Canal.

Ms Keighley read the account of a witness who had called police after seeing her standing on the bridge above the canal. The witness slowed down and called out to ask if she was okay, which Joanne said she was. The driver then pulled up further down the bridge and called 999, who asked if she could see if she was still there.

When the driver reversed, Joanne was no longer there.

Assistant Coroner Keighley, based on evidence from Joanne’s GP records, the clear planning involved, and testimony from Gary, decided to rule the cause of death as suicide by drowning.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, or you are struggling with your mental health, help is available.

Please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or go to samaritans.org