'She was enthralled by motherhood': husband's grief for wife who died after postpartum psychosis

Baby Chiara was only 5 weeks old when Alice died.
Baby Chiara was only 5 weeks old when Alice died. Photo: JUSTGIVING

The husband of an Antiques Roadshow expert who died after emergency services were called to treat a panic attack has opened up about his wife's suspected postpartum psychosis at an inquest into her death.

Anthony Gibson-Watt told the West London Coroner's Court that his wife suffered a panic attack at home and started crawling on all fours, shouting her daughter was unsafe, a month after the birth of her daughter, Chiara Charlotte.

When emergency services were called to help calm the new mum, she fought like a "tigress" and had to be held down by five police and ambulance crew.

The 34-year-old suffered a ruptured liver and internal bleeding and later died of her injuries.

The inquest will look at the events leading up to her death, including her suspected postpartum psychosis, which can cause hallucinations and paranoia, and whether ot not excessive force was used to hold her down and cause fatal injuries.

"Neither Alice or I were at all aware of postpartum psychosis," Anthony Gibson-Watt told the inquest jury.

"What happened that first night was deeply traumatic and wholly unlike my dear wife Alice.

"After some 48 hours of her arrival at Lakeside Mental health unit, I was somewhat relieved she was in the right place to start receiving treatment.

"How wrong that turned out to be."


Gibson-Watt told the court how much his wife had loved her daughter and being a new mum.

"She was enthralled by motherhood. One day I will tell our daughter more about her wonderful mother.

"I just hope now finally we get as close as possible to the truth of her passing."

Alice's mother, Miranda Phillimore, arrived at her daughter's home after Gibson-Watt called her for help, getting there as the ambulance crew arrived at the scene on the evening of November 13. 

"She was alarmingly strapped down with five people holding her down at the time," Phillimore confirmed, adding that she had been "as wild as a tigress" in the ambulance.

Paramedic Suzanne Elias, who was holding baby Chiara, said: "She was very distressed, she was shouting 'my baby is dead'. She was struggling a lot, but they carried her out to the ambulance."

The inquest continues. 

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, contact BeyondBlue.org.au (call 1300 224 636) or LifeLine (call 13 11 14 or chat online after hours).