A POLICE officer struggling to cope with the death of her father took her own life with an overdose of prescription drugs, an inquest heard.

Simone Gibson was found dead near the Chattri memorial on the South Downs just north of Brighton on December 8.

The 56-year-old had gone missing from her home in Hampstead Road, Brighton, four days earlier.

Her body was discovered by a farmer after a major search operation was hampered by torrential rain and thick fog.

Tests found fatal levels of beta blockers in her system – drugs commonly used to slow the heart rate.

A coroner ruled her death was suicide.

Her husband, Jon Gibson, said she was “someone who lit up a room”.

He said: “She was a very special person and the love of my life.”

An inquest in Brighton heard that Mr Gibson reported his wife missing on December 4.

The next morning he realised her prescription sleeping tablets had gone.

He told police, who raised the case from medium to high-risk.

The Coastguard and search-and-rescue teams joined in a bid to find her and bring her home safely.

But her body was found four days later about one kilometre north of the Chattri memorial in Standean Lane, Patcham.

This was known to be a place she liked to visit while out walking.

A farmer found her lying on her coat with a backpack containing pill packets and a bottle of liquid morphine.

She was holding an iPhone with a pair of earphones connected.

The headphones were resting on her chest and the phone battery was found to have run out at 4.21pm on December 5.

Inspector Carrie Kwasniewski, of Sussex Police, who attended the scene, said she believed Mrs Gibson had been listening to music when she died.

A toxicology report revealed she had several drugs in her system.

These included sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, which she had been prescribed, as well as morphine, which she had taken from a relative.

Most of these were at “therapeutic levels”.

The sleeping pills were prescribed to her as she had been struggling to sleep after her father was diagnosed with cancer and moved to a hospice.

He died from the disease in June.

Following this, Mrs Gibson took some time away from her work as she struggled with depression.

She also cared for her mother who was suffering from dementia.

She returned to work and was said to be “pleased to be doing so”.

A toxicology report revealed that the cause of death was an overdose of beta blockers, which she had taken from her husband.

He had been prescribed them in relation to a kidney transplant he had 20 years ago.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley concluded her death was suicide.

She said: “She took her own life carrying out a deliberate act.

“She chose the place carefully so she would not be found.”

Former colleague Brennan Fisher, 57, said: “She brought a warmth into the room.”

“She was such a great person to have in the office with a fantastic sense of humour.”

Anyone experiencing emotional distress and struggling to cope, can contact the Samaritans 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org