The family of a woman who "effectively starved to death" whilst in psychiatric care in Kent have won a High Court fight for a new inquest into her death.

Jennifer Lewis, a 45-year-old who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, died from malnutrition on July 27, 2017, whilst she was detained at the Bracton Centre in Dartford, a secure unit run by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

Last April, a jury at North Kent Coroner's Court concluded she had died from malnutrition as a result of inadequate provision and a lack of necessary medical intervention, but the jury were prevented from reaching a conclusion of neglect by the coroner.

Lord Justice Davis has now ruled that a finding of neglect was "properly open to the jury on the evidence" and has directed that a fresh inquest should take place.

Ms Lewis had been detained under the Mental Health Act since 2010 when she underwent bariatric surgery to lose weight.

An inquest into her death heard Ms lewis's weight remained stable until around 2016 when staff became concerned about her "significant" weight loss, causing hair loss and affecting her eyesight.

She was twice admitted to hospital in early 2017 over malnutrition, but her physical decline continued and she was found semi-conscious in her room on July 14 2017.

Ms Lewis was taken to Darent Valley Hospital where, despite treatment, she died two weeks later.

The jury at North Kent Coroner's Court concluded Ms Lewis died from malnutrition "due to inadequate provision and intake of sufficient nourishment and nutrition, furthered by an inability to (arrange) the necessary medical intervention whilst at the Bracton Centre."

But Ms Lewis's family argued the senior coroner for North West Kent, Roger Hatch, had wrongly failed to leave a conclusion of neglect by the trust to the jury.

On Wednesday, their barrister Julian Waters told the court Ms Lewis had "over a period of about one year effectively starved to death through want of sufficient nutrition".

He said: "During that period, staff at Bracton knew that the deceased was suffering from malnutrition." but the trust did not follow its policies relating to the management of nutrition and hydration.

Mr Waters added the coroner issued a prevention of future deaths report following the inquest, which recorded his concern about the trust's "failure to provide suitable or adequate care for her needs."

He argued the coroner's "irrational" decision to prevent the jury from reaching a conclusion of neglect was "wholly inconsistent with his concerns" expressed in that report.

Lord Justice Davis - sitting with Mr Justice Edis and Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the chief coroner of England and Wales - called the background to the case "somewhat disconcerting," and directed that a fresh inquest should take place.

He said: "Here we have an individual detained under the authority of the state, pursuant to the mental health legislation, in a state-controlled institution who has died of malnutrition."

The judge stated that Ms Lewis had "suffered pronounced weight loss in the months before she died", with "accompanying manifestations of physical decline and malnutrition."

Despite that, he said, "the medical records were never properly maintained or updated and, on the face of it, the written policy on hydration and nutrition simply was not adhered to."

Lord Justice Davis concluded: "This withdrawal of such an issue of neglect from the jury was not one which was reasonably open to the coroner and it has, in consequence, resulted in a flawed inquest."

Ordering a new inquest, the judge added that "it would be better if such an inquest were conducted before a different coroner".