THE death of a former teacher and charity worker whose body was washed up on Bournemouth beach remains a mystery despite a detailed investigation.

Valerie Pitman's body was found in "atrocious" weather conditions seven hours after she left her Poole home just before 11pm on November 21 last year, a Bournemouth inquest heard.

Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin was told Mrs Pitman, a former education adviser to Dorset County Council, had indicated on many occasions that she intended to take her own life.

But she concluded there is not enough evidence to be sure that she did so and recorded an open conclusion.

The inquest heard that Mrs Pitman's husband, Keith, had been involved in a cycling accident which had left him disabled. Mrs Pitman had become his carer.

Mr Pitman, of Turks Lane, Poole told the coroner that they had an active lifestyle until his accident and that he believed his wife had become depressed.

"She always had a philosophy in life that when life was no longer enjoyable she would not continue.

"She felt that her life had been taken away from her by my disability. She couldn't see that things would get better."

He said his 67-year-old wife left their home after a discussion and said: "I am going now - it's not your fault."

He added: "She got in the car - I phoned the police. I realised that she was going to commit suicide."

Their son, Daniel, and friend Susan Arnold both told the court she had also discussed suicide with them.

Mrs Pitman's body was found in the sea between Alum Chine and Durley Chine just before 6am on November 22 by dog walker Craig Thurlow.

She was fully clothed and a post mortem examination revealed she died of drowning. Her car was found at Sandbanks.

In conclusion, Mrs Griffin said:"I don't know where she went into the water because there are no witnesses. She had talked about ending her life with family and friends but I can't be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she intended to take her own life.

"It could have been that she went down to the coast for some space, to clear her thoughts and look out to sea."