The grieving son of a retired policewoman who died when she was locked naked in a hotel airing cupboard is set to sue the holiday resort.
Elizabeth Isherwood, 60, allegedly tried for hours to free herself after she became trapped inside the cupboard on the first night of her one-week stay at the Plas Talgarth holiday complex near Machynlleth in Wales in September last year.
But other hotel guests who heard banging coming from the ‘fit and sporty’ mum’s room in the middle of the night thought it was maintenance work, her family claim.
Elizabeth, also known as Mary to friends and family, clawed through brickwork and plaster as she fought to break down a wall to free herself, but died from hypothermia after getting covered in water when a pipe she had broken to use as a chisel drenched her.
Her devastated son Craig, 33, is now seeking compensation from holiday resort owners Macdonald Resorts over the tragedy as he claims the company was negligent in failing to check whether the airing cupboard’s door handle was working properly.
An inquest heard Elizabeth, a part-time care worker from Wolverhampton, had got up in the middle of the night and became trapped in the cupboard in the en-suite bathroom, recording a verdict of misadventure.
Her body was found by hotel staff at the end of the week after they noticed water had started to leak from the property.
Her son Craig said his mother had died “in the most terrible circumstances you could imagine”.
“We think she had been trying to escape for several hours,” he said.
“She broke off a pipe and used that to try to break through the walls, but as a result water sprayed down on her.
“Her body temperature was sky high because of the exertion, but when she stopped her temperature plummeted because she was soaked – and hypothermia set in.
“We believe she died that night or the following day.
“Tragically, she had made a hole big enough to climb through, but did not realise her way out was only blocked by a picture screwed to the other side of the wall.
“A couple in a neighbouring apartment heard banging and thought they would report it if it went on after 5pm.
“But sadly, my mother gave up her attempt at 5.05pm so they assumed it had been maintenance workers who had finished for the day.”
Craig and Elizabeth’s ex-husband Clive previously revealed the resort she had been staying at was a time-share, which the family co-owned and had previously stayed in together before selling just before her death.
Elizabeth and Clive had met in the police force but split almost 30 years ago when Elizabeth came out as gay.
Elizabeth quit her job as a policewoman at around the same time and relocated to London, where she began working for the Post Office Investigation Service.
While in London she met her partner Rosie and the couple moved to New Zealand together in the early 90s before Elizabeth returned to the UK in the early 2000s.
Her family believe she took a swim in the pool at the complex before returning to her room, and after going to bed that evening, without unpacking.
But the keen sports enthusiast, who was also a former teacher, then woke in the middle of the night to use the en-suite bathroom.
On her way back to bed, her family believe Elizabeth mistook the door to an airing cupboard as the door back into her bedroom and entered without realising where she was going.
When the door closed behind her, she then attempted to leave the cupboard but the door handle fell off, trapping her inside.
Son wants resort to admit it made a mistake
Dad of two Craig said his mum was fit and healthy and had years of a happy life ahead of her.
“She had been playing golf almost on a daily basis and enjoyed looking after my two daughters, for whom she provided lots of care.
“Telling my daughters was the worst possible conversation a father can have with his children, but thankfully they are incredibly resilient, even though they miss their grandmother terribly.
- Police forced to chase down croc found wandering 3km from water
- The truth behind ‘disgusting’ photo of airline staff ‘sleeping on floor
- Heart-stopping moment woman falls into shark tank during feeding time
“The legal action is not about the compensation, because how can you put a value on a life?
“It is about the fact that this should never have happened.
“I just want the company to admit that they made a mistake in not checking the door properly and make sure that this cannot happen to anyone else.”
Craig is being represented by Adam Wilson, an associate at Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler.
“This was a quite horrific tragedy, and there is no amount of money which can compensate Mr Isherwood and his two children for the loss of a much-loved mother and grandmother,” Mr Wilson said.
“But we believe that this was a tragedy which could, and should, have been avoided. It is impossible to imagine the distress Mrs Isherwood must have gone through as she tried to free herself from that cupboard.
“The central issue is whether the company was negligent in not correctly maintaining the door at the property, which we believe to be the case.”
A spokesman for Macdonald Resorts said they were unable to comment at this stage.