Death of woman in bath, aged 21, sparked murder probe

Rebecca 'Bex' Olive
Rebecca 'Bex' Olive

A family had to endure months of uncertainty after a 21-year-old woman was found dead in the bath, an inquest heard yesterday (Thursday, May 16).

Police initially had to treat the death of Rebecca ‘Bex’ Olive as suspicious.

It was some nine months later that a Home Office forensic pathologist was able to establish that she had collapsed from an epileptic seizure and drowned.

The body of the care assistant was discovered on May 19 last year by her brother Kieron in the bathroom of the flat in Manor Court, High Street, Horam, they shared with their father, Barry Olive.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of murder and later released under investigation. The death remained unexplained.

A post-mortem examination report said there was no evidence of third party involvement but the precise cause of death had to be established by second post-mortem tests.

Bex was on medication after being diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 12 and had suffered seizures during her teenage years, the inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall heard.

In a statement read out at the inquest, Kieron said he had been on his Xbox and wearing headphones during the afternoon his sister’s body was discovered and had not been aware she was in the flat until he went to the bathroom at approximately 4.40pm.

It later had to be treated as a crime scene by police and Bex’s death had to be treated as suspicious until its cause was finally established.

East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze said it was regrettable this had taken so long and said it was due to the fact there were too few specialist pathologists.

“It has taken a long, long time,” he said, “but without cause of death police had to do what they had to do.”

He added: “I’m very sorry the family had to be put through this. Ideally cause of death should be established with minimum delay.”

Mr Craze recorded a conclusion of death by natural causes.