A woman from London who died while staying in a Hertfordshire women's refuge committed suicide, a coroner has ruled.

On Tuesday an inquest into the death of 53-year-old Janet Griffiths heard that she had been assessed several times and was never considered a suicide risk but suffered a history of abuse from her former partner.

Hertfordshire Coroner's Court in Hatfield heard that she took prescription drugs to combat anxiety whilst suffering from an unknown stomach pain that she feared could be cancer.

Then when Ms Griffiths, of New Barn Street, Plaistow, left her partner for the second time, the anxiety became worse.

Christine Nichols, Ms Griffiths' cousin, said: "She was always immaculate, no matter how down she was, she was lovely. She liked to go out shopping and to make herself look nice.

"She was with the man of her dreams, but he just turned into a monster. He was very controlling, she couldn't even go to the shops. When she went back to him, I just couldn't understand why.

"She was quite lonely. Her mother died two years ago and they were very close. Her father has asbestosis so was on oxygen 18 hours a day, and her brother had stomach cancer."

"She looked over her shoulder all the time, she thought he was watching her, she just didn't know what to do.

Ms Nichols added: "What always goes on in my mind is the last time I left her, I walked her to the front door and she said 'I love you'. She had never said that before."

Sonia Turner, who worked at Ms Griffiths' community drug team, helped to move her into the refuge, the inquest heard.

She said: "She'd rang and asked for me specifically. I made sure she was safe because she was very frightened. I asked her if she felt down, if she had been harming herself, she said not at all. She was just very anxious about her partner."

Ms Griffiths was worried about staying anywhere too far from her father so there was some delay in housing her, but she found a place at a Hertfordshire refuge on February 12 this year, the day before died.

Liz Perry, manager of the St Albans and Hertsmere Refuge, told the inquest: "Nothing raised any concern at the point of the risk assessment. Then we give the women a chance to just 'land' because community living is hard, coming into what could be classed as an institution."

When Ms Griffiths wasn't seen the next day, the inquest heard that nothing was noted as out of the ordinary.

Police detective Jeremy White said: "CCTV saw her leaving to go to the local shops the previous evening to buy a sandwich, but nobody was with her. One resident heard her stir at around 4am."

Bal Rai, a worker at the refuge, knocked twice at 2pm but there was no answer. Eventually refuge staff opened the door and found Ms Griffiths' hanging body, with both wrists slit.

Mr White said: "There were no signs of forced entry or evidence that anyone else had been in the room. There were no reports in the vicinity of the partner, whose number plate was held on record and wasn't recorded on any of the automatic number plate recognition devices in the area."

After hearing a post-mortem had found nothing unusual, and no sign of disease, Hertfordshire Coroner Edward Thomas recorded that she had taken her own life.

Mr Thomas said: "Janet was a dignified lady, but was under a lot of strain. She just picked some wrong 'uns."