A WOMAN who had been suffering with depression and anxiety for a number of years was found on the shoreline of a beach, an inquest heard.

However, a pathologist said she believed Sheila Chrystie had suffered problems with her heart, rather than drowning.

Winchester Coroner's Court heard the 70-year-old, from Ellesfield Drive, in West Parley was discovered on the beach at Milford on Sea on the morning of January 29 by a dog walker.

Her husband, Andrew, said she had gone out for a drive after having an evening meal the day before, but when she didn't return home he called the police and reported her missing.

Mr Chrystie told the inquest: "On previous occasions she had gone out in the car and returned. Driving was just another technique to reduce her anxiety."

He added that in the months before her death, she had concerns about possibly suffering from motor neurone disease and about the way her mental health treatment had been changed.

Mr Chrystie said he went out with his son on the morning to look for her and found her car near the beach, which was a place visited frequently by the pair. Police, who had been alerted by the dog walker, then found the pair told them of the discovery of her body by the water.

Pathologist Dr Eleanor Jaynes told the inquest she found no evidence of drowning during the postmortem, but did find evidence of a previous heart attack, which she said Mrs Chrystie was unlikely to have been aware of.

Dr Jaynes said that would have made her heart weaker, and believed she suffered a fatal problem with her heart while walking on the beach.

Recording a conclusion of death due to natural causes, senior coroner Grahame Short said: "I cannot determine precisely when she died, I believe it can best be described as the late evening on January 28."