A CORONER has recorded an open verdict after an Amazon employee on long-term sick leave passed away after being “pressed” by HMRC for an income tax bill, an inquest heard.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said “we will never know” how Linda Anne Machin died, at an inquest into her death at Winchester Coroner’s Court on Monday.

The court was told the 60-year-old grandmother was found dead at her home on Barnfield Rise in Andover on October 6.

Her family said Mrs Machin had suffered with her mental health and had been left upset by the death of a family dog.

But while Mrs Machin had previously shown signs of feeling suicidal, the coroner noted that there was no indication Mrs Machin had tried to take her life.

In the days leading up to her death, she had been making plans and buying cards for upcoming birthdays.

The court heard how Mrs Machin was left in tears after being pursued for a bill by HMRC after her employer, Amazon, gave her shares in the company, the inquest heard.

Her family said they believed she was ‘unaware’ of how much she had, and that she was caused “a lot of stress” by the taxman.

Mrs Machin had been placed on long-term sick leave at Amazon over concerns for her mental health.

Her family told the coroner that she had been given shares in Amazon over time, which at the time of her death were estimated to have been worth a significant amount.

As someone in receipt of income from investments, Mrs Machin should have filled out a tax return, but was said to be ‘unaware’ of her earnings.

Her daughter, Emma, told the inquest: “I don’t believe she knew how much she had. She was just worried about receiving medical benefit so she could pay her mortgage.”

Mrs Machin’s son, Shaun, said that in the weeks before her death, he said he had found his mother in her garage “crying her eyes out, thinking she would lose everything”.

“HMRC were seeing she was earning over salary and were really pressing her for it,” he said. “It was causing a lot of stress.”

However, he said that the value of the shares would have allowed them to buy Mrs Machin her house, as well as paid off the tax bill, had she remained alive.

Following discussion of Mrs Machin’s finances, the coroner heard evidence relating to the grandmother’s mental health, with the inquest hearing she had previously attempted to take her own life.

“She had struggled with mental health issues her entire life,” said Ms Rhodes-Kemp. “They got worse after the death of her husband, and she had in the past tried to kill herself. However, the behaviour leading up to her death was not similar to what was previously observed.”

The coroner said that Mrs Machin was probably self-medicating in the weeks leading up to her death.

One particular incident prior to her death was the passing of Shaun’s dog Frankie, who Mrs Machin was taking care of.

“She went from not being too keen on animals to falling in love,” he said. “She was very fond of my bulldogs. She was devastated following Frankie’s death.”

Mrs Machin was said to have been making plans before her death, including completing paintings and buying birthday cards of upcoming celebrations.

The coroner said that there were “no indications she was going to harm herself”.

A post-mortem report recorded nothing unusual apart from lung congestion and a slightly enlarged heart.

A toxicology report found an elevated dose of clozapine in Mrs Machin’s blood, “but not one that would normally be associated with fatality”.

Due to the time between her death and the time she was found, the post-mortem was inconclusive.

Delivering her verdict, the corner said that Mrs Machin was “really sideturned by loss” but ruled that there was “not enough evidence she was trying to overdose”. She said that the high level of clozapine was likely due to her self-medicating while feeling anxious.

Addressing the family, Ms Rhodes-Kemp said: “For whatever reason we will never know how she died. I’m just sorry I can’t give you a definite cause.”

The family thanked her and the coronial team for their work, saying: “It’s been tough but we’re appreciative.”

An open verdict was declared.

A HMRC spokesperson said: “Anyone with concerns about paying tax should contact us as soon as possible so that we can help. They may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

“These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.”