Care worker, 60, died after getting trapped naked in an airing cupboard

A care worker died of hypothermia after she got trapped naked in an airing cupboard which had a broken door knob.

Elizabeth Mary Isherwood, 60, was on a week-long stay at Plas Talgarth holiday complex in North Wales when she is thought to have got lost in the middle of the night. 

The former policewomen is believed to have accidentally locked herself into the airing cupboard.

An inquest into her death heard how she fought in vein to free herself by digging through the brickwork and ripping shelves from the wall.

But in the process, Ms Isherwood burst a pipe which caused water to rain down on her, causing her to freeze to death.   

A care worker died after she became trapped naked in an airing cupboard at the Plas Talgarth holiday complex in Wales, an inquest has heard

Coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones, at Caernarfon, said that sometime after she arrived, Ms Isherwood became trapped in the ‘confined space’ of the airing cupboard after its door knob came off.

A shocked maintenance worker later found her body after water poured through the ceiling and she died of hypothermia.

‘What I believe happened is some time during the night or during the morning she had got up and gone to the bathroom,’ Mr Pritchard Jones said.

‘From there she went to the airing cupboard. The door opened inwards and it closed behind her.’

Mr Pritchard Jones said the round part of the door knob seemed to have come off the internal mechanism, which was still attached to the door.

‘Being unable to turn the lock and realising she was trapped and there was no light, at some stage she first of all pulled the shelves off,’ he said.

‘Whether she used them to try and get out, I can’t say.

‘What she did do was she pulled the copper piping and a piece was broken off.

‘This was used to try initially to open the door because there were marks on the door but also used to try and break a hole through the wall of the airing cupboard.

The part-time care worker arrived for a stay in a 'luxury self-catered lodge' in Pennal alone on September 23 last year

The part-time care worker arrived for a stay in a ‘luxury self-catered lodge’ in Pennal alone on September 23 last year

‘I believe she knocked some of the plaster of one wall to find blocks behind.’

Mrs Isherwood managed to make a hole in another wall, he said.

He added: ‘Unfortunately on the other side of the wall was a picture.

‘She had been able to break a hole completely through that wall. I think the presence of the picture meant she didn’t realise. She probably thought she couldn’t get out.’

The coroner said water would have been flowing through the airing cupboard, spraying everything inside.

But he said he wasn’t sure about when Mrs Isherwood became trapped.

‘I am satisfied she occupied the flat on September 23. She wasn’t seen after that,’ he said.

‘My belief is what happened, being locked in the airing cupboard, happened during the night of the 23rd-24th and more than likely during the early hours of the 24th.

‘I don’t know how long she was in the cupboard. She was a fit lady.’

He added: ‘The cause of all this was the failure of the knob in the airing cupboard door.’

Detective Con Gareth Wilcox Jones said the occupier of another apartment had heard a ‘series of thuds’, but hadn’t reported them.

The coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure because of ‘the sheer bad luck that the knob disintegrated while Mrs Isherwood was in the cupboard, although I can’t say why she was there.’

She knew the apartment she stayed in from previous visits. A file photo shows the resort's grounds

She knew the apartment she stayed in from previous visits. A file photo shows the resort’s grounds

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers told the coroner that Mrs Isherwood’s cause of death hypothermia.

He said it had been accelerated by her being naked, stuck in a cupboard and sprayed by water.

‘I can’t tell you when she went in that cupboard but she may well have been in there a number of days trying to get out,’ he told the coroner.

‘Whether she’s somehow gone in the wrong door, got confused, who knows?

‘But she entered that airing cupboard and the door has closed behind her.

‘She had been in complete darkness and naked. The door opened inwards and she had been unable to kick the door outwards.’

He added: ‘She may have been dead by the Monday. It could have been more protracted.’

Mrs Isherwood’s family members made no comment as they left the hearing.