Wife of ShelterBox charity founder died from an overdose of morphine the day after her husband was sacked: UPDATE

Jane, wife of ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson meeting the Duchess of Cornwall in 2007

Jane, wife of ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson meeting the Duchess of Cornwall in 2007

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The wife of ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson died from an overdose of morphine the day after her husband was sacked from the charity, an inquest has heard.

Jane Henderson, 59, was found by her family during the afternoon of August 3, 2012 in the bedroom of the couple’s Helston home in Barbican Way.

The inquest heard evidence that shortly after his mother was pronounced dead, the couple’s son John became extremely agitated claiming to both police and ambulance staff that his mother had been “murdered” through stress. 

He went on to tell police that they should arrest the chairman of ShelterBox trustees Ian Munday saying: “You’d better arrest him before I get to him.”

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The couple’s son John

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Tom Henderson was sacked for gross misconduct

Mr Munday was subsequently given 999 advice by police as a precaution.

Evidence from John Henderson said that his father Tom Henderson was sacked for gross misconduct in July 2012. He was initially offered a presidential role, which he accepted, but in a board meeting it was stated that he did not want it.

Earlier he had claimed that in recent years the charity had become “very corporate” and that senior management was “poorly staffed.”

During that time Mrs Henderson remained an employed member of staff, as a personal assistant to her husband and in other roles.

John said: “Mum was very aware of the problems in ShelterBox. It started to affect her greatly. ShelterBox’s problems made mum's life up to her death intolerable.”

On August 2, 2012 Tom Henderson received an email telling him he would not be given the presidential role.

John Henderson said: “When I arrived mum was on the floor pulling at her hair and screaming. I can only describe it as a mental breakdown.”

Mrs Henderson slept for an hour on the sitting room floor before being put to bed by her husband.

At 3am, however, she awoke to get a glass of water; that was the last time any of her family saw her alive, although they heard her snoring as late as 2pm the following day – two hours before she was found dead.

An open verdict was recorded by coroner Emma Carlyon, who said it was "not clear when and where the morphine was administered".

No evidence was given to explain where it came from, with Mrs Henderson not being prescribed the drug since 2004, following an operation. She suffered from back problems that led her to take other theraputic drugs and sleeping tablets. 

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George Curnow, a ShelterBox trustee after the inquest

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