Former postmistress from Hampshire tragically died from fall at home before receiving full compensation

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A victim of the Post Office scandal tragically died following a fall at her home caused by a brain tumour, an inquest heard.

Former sub-postmistress Lynette Hutchings, 67, passed away before receiving full compensation for her wrongful conviction for theft due to the flawed Horizon IT  system. She was one of the 39 postmasters and mistresses whose convictions were declared unsafe by the Court of Appeal in 2021. However, the following year she suffered a number of falls and was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, Hants, the hearing was told. She died in February last year from a lung infection, the inquest heard. At Portsmouth Coroner's Court, area coroner Jason Pegg concluded a verdict of accidental death, after finding she would not have died had she not fallen and hit her head in December 2022.

Lynette was wrongly convicted of false accounting following alleged shortfalls in the accounts of two Post Offices she ran. The mother of two had bought her first in Crookham, near Fleet, in 2002, but an auditor located total shortfalls in the sum of £6,993. She was suspended and told that she would have to pay it back, resulting in the Hutchings taking out a bank loan to repay it. Lynette and her husband of 46 years, Stephen, sold it in the summer of 2005 and moved to Havant before taking up her post at Rowland's Castle in August 2006. In 2011, they were informed that there was another shortfall of £10,814 but this time, they did not have the money to pay it back.

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She told the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry she was 'humiliated and unable to speak' about her ordeal, and was in such a 'dark place' she had even considered suicide. The Post Office Scandal has been described as one of the most widespread miscarriages of justice in British history and postmasters across the country were negatively impacted by the scandal. The Horizon system would note shortfalls on its system and, within the Post Office contract, postmasters were liable to pay for any discrepancies.

Jason Pegg said: "The two of you left teaching and went into running Post Offices, one of which was in the north of this county and then in Rowlands Castle and in 2012 was convicted in in what is now known as the Post Office scandal." He said she was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour which 'clearly affected' her balance, breathing and swallowing. He recorded that her death was 'accidental' and it was heard she had lost her swallowing ability and died of a lung infection but said she 'would not have passed away when she did', had she not fallen.

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In the statement, it said: "As the problems grew with the so-called balance discrepancies, my mental health deteriorated.

"Before my hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court, upon a plea bargain from the Post Office's lawyers and upon advice from my Barrister, I pleaded Guilty to one Count of False Accounting, despite my innocence.

"I cannot even being to explain how it feels to have to plead guilty to an offence you did not commit. "I had no faith in the system but I knew that the outcome could be more serious it the case had gone to a full trial. "For my community service, I carried out 120 hours of unpaid work in a Charity Shop in Havant."

Lynette sadly died before she was able to receive full compensation for what she had to endure as a result of the faulty Horizon IT system.

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