A nurse died instantly after she blew herself up in her car.

Horrified neighbours told how Linda Scott's car was lifted off the ground by the explosion.

The mother-of-one died from serious head injuries before flames engulfed her Seat Ibiza.

A book describing how a woman had died in a car explosion was found open inside her flat.

A friend of Ms Scott had died in similar circumstances, an inquest was told yesterday.

Plumber Luke Fitzpatrick, who was working near the 42-year-old’s home in Woodsland Road, Hassocks, described an explosion and “millions of glass shards” flying across the car park as the car's windows blew out on October 26, last year.

Seconds later another blast transformed the car into a fireball.

Mr Fitzpatrick said it was only then that he realised there was someone in the car, but he and other witnesses were beaten back by the heat from the fire.

Ms Scott, a cancer nurse at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, was separated from her mental health practitioner husband Stuart Robson.

The couple had a five-year-old son together.

The inquest was told that Ms Scott drank up to nine bottles of wine a day and had undergone inpatient treatment for mental health problems in the months leading up to her death.

She was admitted to Langley Green psychiatric hospital at Crawley as a voluntary patient but discharged herself.

Ms Scott was admitted again in April last year after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Towards the end of her treatment she was allowed to go home at the weekends to prepare her for life back in the community again.

Mrs Julia Christiansen said her sister started drinking heavily again as soon as she was released.

Alison Wolfenden, Mrs Scott's case worker, said she was given treatment and offered residential rehabilitation for her alcohol problems but did not accept it.

Mrs Christiansen added: “She was a very clever person and told the people looking after her what they wanted to hear.

“She said her life was rubbish but we never got to the bottom of why she thought that.”

Ms Scott was seen with a box that may have been a petrol can shortly before the explosion.

PC Mark Hill said the fire had started on the car's back seat and spread to the petrol tank which had exploded.

Mike Kendal, West Sussex assistant coroner, recorded a verdict of that Ms Scott took her own life.