Stacey Gwilliam was strangled by her partner Keith Hughes in a row as they walked on a coastal path at Langland Bay, Swansea, in July 2015. He had tried to ‘snap her neck’ before burying her in a grave at a golf course but she had managed to claw herself out using her nails.
At the inquest held after her death in Swansea, it was revealed that Ms. Gwilliam, 40, had suffered from PTSD ever since that fateful day– anxiety, depression and panic attacks following the assault. She had also developed pneumonia as a result of being buried alive.
Ms. Gwilliam, from Townhill, Swansea, died at home in November of last year after suffering from a chest infection, the inquest heard. She had called her GP the day before her death and was told to take antibiotics. She did, but after self-medicating in an attempt to treat her infection, she was found dead the following day. Acting Senior Coroner Colin Phillips recorded a conclusion of accidental death as result of self-medicating.
Police arrested Hughes, 39, after he crashed her car after the assault on her. He was then jailed for life with a minimum of eight years by Judge Paul Thomas at Swansea Crown Court. The inquest heard that Ms. Gwilliam had first met Hughes in 2011, subsequently he became abusive towards her.
PC Tom Evans, of South Wales Police, said her family had noticed she had ‘marks and bruises’ on her body during the relationship and feared for her safety.
At the time of Hughes’ arrest, in a victim statement to the court, Stacey told how she had nearly died and spent nearly three weeks in a coma after saying she wanted to end their relationship.
She said: “I will never ever forget what he did to me that day and what he did to me throughout our relationship and now I have to live with that for the rest of my life. I only hope he does too.”
The former Virgin Atlantic worker spent three months in hospital following the attack and had to relearn how to walk and talk again.
At the inquest, it was revealed that Ms. Gwilliam had started to order medication online – and toxicology reports from the post-mortem found a number of sedative drugs in her system which were mostly prescribed, but Dr. John Williams determined that the cause of death was bronchopneumonia with combined drug toxicity. He said: “I have heard she suffered a number of health issues in her short life and was subjected to a number of abusive relationships, but there is no evidence that she intended to end her life on this occasion.”