Mother raises concerns over police search for missing daughter who died in Worksop, inquest hears
The mother of an American woman who died in hospital after going missing in Nottinghamshire for more than two days has raised concerns about the subsequent police effort to find her during the inquest into her death.
‘Kind and gentle’ Tristianna Mahana was admitted to Bassetlaw District Hospital on July 10 2020 after she was found lying in the beer garden of the Roman’s Rest pub at Celtic Point in Worksop by paramedics, but her condition deteriorated and she died in intensive care two days later.
A two-day inquest into the 31-year-old’s death held at Nottingham Coroner’s Court today (Thursday, May 27 2021) heard that Tristianna, who according to mother Melanie Burrell had a mental age of around 11, left her supported living facility in Ollerton at around 9am on July 9.
She emerged at Bassetlaw District Hospital at 5pm that day, but left around 20 minutes later after telling medics she ‘had to get back to Mansfield’.
The 31-year-old wasn't seen again until 5am the next day when she was found at the Roman’s Rest in a distressed state.
The court heard that Tristianna, who was born and raised a ‘happy and normal kid’ in the US, had a long history of self harm and mental illness including schizophrenia which was exacerbated by her recreational drug use and alcohol dependency.
In the weeks leading up to Tristianna’s death, her ex-husband took his own life, with staff at her supported living facility noting she was ‘confused and upset’ that he hadn’t left a note and that she was unable to attend his funeral.
It was not completely unusual for Tristianna to disappear on ‘long walks’, said Ms Burrell in her statement, adding: “I wasn’t really panicking when Tris went off, as I’d been here before.
"Since she arrived at the assisted living facility in 2019, she hadn’t really been wandering off, her medication was working for her and had seemed much more settled.
“But that morning she rang me asking if I had her passport, as she had lost her bank card and needed it to draw money out. I told her no, and that staff would have it.
“I later texted her to ask if she’d got her cigarettes ok, as that’s what I knew she’d buy with her money.
"But I was contacted by staff at the facility who informed me Tristianna had told them she had gone shopping in Mansfield but not returned.
"I stayed at home until the evening, in case she showed up. I even checked flights at Heathrow in case she’d wanted her passport in order to visit her daughter back in America.”
After several failed attempts to contact Tristianna, who was by now overdue to take her medication, worried staff contacted the police and reported her as missing.
But despite Tristianna’s vulnerability and grapples with mental illness, she was deemed as ‘of no apparent risk’ by officers.
CCTV later revealed that she had caught the Sherwood Arrow bus to Retford before she appeared at Bassetlaw District Hospital.
Tristianna’s exact whereabouts before she was found at the Roman’s Rest are unknown, although a witness reported seeing a woman who matched Tristianna’s description lying in a doorway on Thievesdale Lane.
Upon being found by paramedics, Tristianna claimed she had been raped a few days earlier.
She also told them she had smoked a cigarette, which she believed to contain heroin, and accepted a cup of liquid from a man although she did not know what was in the cup.
A police investigation carried out after her death did not identify any rape suspect and found that the cup offered to Tristianna contained ‘urine and excrement’.
Tristianna was then admitted to Bassetlaw District Hospital suffering from multi-organ failure and ‘deranged liver function’.
Medics said she was offered ‘maximum support’ but ‘sadly, she did not respond and passed away peacefully’ at 3.15am on July 12.
A post-mortem report found significant damage to Tristianna’s liver, suggesting ‘previous excessive use of paracetamol’, along with a number of prescription drugs in her system – although ‘none of these were at toxic level’.
The provisional cause of death was given by the pathologist as ‘due to effects of paracetamol’.
Giving evidence in court, Superintendent Sukesh Verma of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Although I was not the commander at the time, there is a sense of sadness, disappointment and regret.
"I believe that all correct procedural processes were completed, but do feel more information could have been obtained.
“Tristianna had turned up at the hospital and made contact with her mother – that information has to be rattified and I completely understand why the calltaker deemed her to be of no apparent risk.
"Had Tristianna been marked as a medium or high risk person, an officer or officers would have been dispatched to the scene.
“But because she went missing in such a large radius, this could have been from three or four different stations. It’s a bit of needle in a haystack.
“The critical thing for me here is timings and we did identify a delay in Tristianna’s case being reviewed by the control room, which may be down to other critical incidents taking place, but I don’t believe this would have changed the outcome.”
Miss Burrell raised concerns that police had not attended Bassetlaw District Hospital when Tristianna appeared there before going missing again.
She said: “She was right there, so I don’t understand why police weren’t deployed. I mentioned multiple times to the person on the phone she was vulnerable and had mental health issues, but he didn’t seem bothered at all.”
Superintendent Verma responded: “As a parent, I completely understand how it must have felt in those circumstances and I’m so sorry you didn’t get the empathy you deserve, which I will be dealing with.
"The reason police weren’t deployed was because Tristianna, being around doctors and nurses in a hospital, was deemed to be in a place of safety.
"This case is part of the learning process - as a police force we need to be more sighted about vulnerability, levels of which are currently on the rise.”
The inquest continues.