MYSTERY still surrounds the death of a Poole mother-of-two whose remains were found on heathland seven months after she disappeared.

Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded an open verdict at the inquest into the death of Emma Palmer, 41, after failing to conclude how she died.

Bournemouth Coroner's Court heard the receptionist, from Sandbanks Road, Parkstone, suffered jaw cancer in 1986 and breast cancer in 2003.

She also endured post-natal depression, a divorce and the breakdown of a new relationship in the years preceding her disappearance.

Mrs Palmer's ex-husband Martin told the court she had been upset after he embarked on a new relationship and she had been treated in the Priory clinic near Southampton, for depression.

He said: "I was worried about her. She didn't talk about suicide, but she talked about I don't know how I'm going to carry on like this', I don't know how I'm going to get myself better'."

Mrs Palmer was reported missing on September 10 after her family failed to make contact with her.

Her red Mini Cooper was found abandoned in a lay-by on the A351 at Holton Heath and police conducted an extensive search of the area.

Mrs Palmer's remains were found by English Nature reserve staff in April a few hundred yards from the lay-by, just beyond the boundary of the police search area.

Det Insp Ben Hargreaves said a friend of Mrs Palmer's, Dr Jane Hext, told police she had been with Mrs Palmer the evening before she disappeared, when she had mentioned suicide.

He added: "Dr Hext said Emma had been very low and had mentioned ways of taking her life and had asked if her medication would allow her to take her life."

Dr Hext, 37, who was a partner in the West Moors practice, also suffered from depression and committed suicide in January after taking an overdose.

Mr Payne said of Emma: "It was not possible to carry out any form of post mortem so we have no idea what has caused her death.

"The police are satisfied there was no third party involved in her death, but I have insufficient evidence that she took her own life.

"It has been a slow journey and I'm sorry that it has to come to an end in this way."