24th Oct, 2017

Assault night before may not have caused Luisa Mendes' death, inquest hears

Leamington Editorial 25th May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

MYSTERY still surrounds the death of Luisa Mendes after an inquest heard an assault the night before she died may not have killed her.

The body of the 44-year-old was discovered at an address in Briar Close on October 25, 2012.

Registered homeless, Ms Mendes was known to spend nights at the property in Lillington, which belonged to Christopher Taylor, while a second man – Nicholas White – was also a regular visitor.

Both Mr White and Mr Taylor were arrested in connection with Ms Mendes’ death but were subsequently released without charge.

Mr Taylor – a registered alcoholic who consumes up to six litres of cider a day – was ruled unfit to give evidence by coroner Tom Leeper.

In his absence, transcripts of interviews conducted while Mr Taylor was in custody were read out at the inquest, which continued this week.

The court heard how he became increasingly frustrated as he was repeatedly questioned about the circumstances leading up to Ms Mendes’ death with Mr Taylor at one point stating: ‘I am an innocent man.’

He did however confess to hitting Ms Mendes ‘four or five times’ in the stomach and ‘a few times’ in the head the night before she died.

Mr Taylor told investigating officers he attacked Ms Mendes as ‘she was seeing someone behind my back’ but said he stopped as soon as she asked him to, adding: “I’m sorry for what happened. I do regret it, but I can’t turn back the clock.”

Mr Taylor was then asked whether he had been threatened into making a confession and he admitted Mr White had said he would ‘kick his head in’ if he did not confess to hitting Ms Mendes.

Asked why he thought Mr White, who he described as a friend, had threatened him, Mr Taylor replied: “Sometimes he gets a bit aggressive…I don’t know…because he thought I killed her?”

Forensic pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt carried out a number of examinations on Ms Mendes’ body.

Giving evidence at the inquest, he told the jury she had 47 injuries and bruises on her body – some of which were fresh while others varied in age.

He said they could have been caused by anything from falling while drunk to suffering an assault.

The majority of the injuries were unrelated to her death however, with a post-mortem revealing she died as the result of ‘catastrophic’ internal bleeding and a ruptured spleen.

The court heard how Ms Mendes was found to have cirrhosis – or scarring – of the liver, which was likely due to her alcoholism.

She also suffered from the rare condition of splenic peliosis – a build up of blood filled cysts on the spleen – and this may have caused her spleen to rupture spontaneously or over a period of time.

Dr Hunt told the jury the blows from Mr Taylor could have contributed to the rupture ‘on the balance of probabilities’, but he could not be sure ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ that the injuries she sustained in the attack the night before her death were the reason why she died.

The inquest continues.

N.B. – THESE PROCEEDINGS DO NOT CONCERN A CHRIS TAYLOR (PICTURED BELOW) OF ST MARY’S ROAD IN LEAMINGTON, WHO IS BEING WRONGLY IDENTIFIED AS THE GENTLEMAN NAMED IN THIS ARTICLE.

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