Mother dies after falling from Cornwall cliff while stargazing

Michelle Woods was on holiday with her husband and children in Polzeath

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A mum died after falling from a cliff after stargazing with her husband at a Cornish beauty spot, an inquest heard.

Michelle Woods, 36, was on holiday with husband Chris and their two young children when the tragic accident happened just before Christmas last year.

The couple, from Burton upon Trent, had been drinking with friends at their holiday bungalow in Polzeath shortly before the accident, an inquest at Truro City Hall heard.

At around 1am on December 4, Michelle and Chris decided to take advantage of the clear sky and watch the stars from a bench on the cliff edge between Daymer Bay and Polzeath.

After a minor disagreement, Chris decided to return to the bungalow so the evening wouldn't be spoiled. But when he awoke the next morning, Michelle was nowhere to be seen, Cornwall Live reported.

The group decided to call the emergency services as the disappearance was out of character and land and sea searches were launched.

After a walker spotted something in the water, Michelle's body was discovered around half a mile out to sea off Polzeath. She had suffered catastrophic injuries.

Her husband tearfully told the inquest: "She was full of life, she lived for her kids, she lived for her family.

"We loved Cornwall. We had been in Padstow throughout the day at the food festival. We had a really nice time at the festival and bought a few Christmas presents. We headed back and the intention was to have a bit of a party. It was a happy, noisy house.

"We put the kids to bed and we had a few drinks as you do. It was approximately 1.15 to 1.30 [in the morning] and I noticed that the sky was really clear so I said, 'It's a really nice night, shall we go for a walk and look at the stars?' It was perfect, a clear night."

Credits: Getty Images North America

The mum-of-two plunged from a cliff at the Cornish beauty spot

He added: "We talked about a lot of things. It was not an argument - it was just a bicker. We'd had a drink and it was pointless and stupid. And I didn't want to argue anymore and spoil the weekend as we were having a nice time. So I left her [at the beach]. I don't know what she did [next]."

A post-mortem examination concluded that Michelle died after suffering multiple injuries consistent with a fall from height, with alcohol possibly being a contributing factor.

Detective Constable Sarah Northcott told the hearing that the cliffs are as high as 80ft in some places.

She said: "There are several sheer drops down onto the rocks. Some of it is fenced, some of it is not. We could not identify the spot she went over. No one witnessed what happened."

She added that an investigation concluded there was no third party involvement.

The inquest heard that Michelle had previously suffered from depression, but had recovered in the year before her death.

Andrew Cox, assistant coroner for Cornwall, ruled out the possibility of suicide and returned a conclusion of an accidental death.

He said: "The evidence here is uncontroversial, but it's incomplete. I don't think this is a case of suicide.

"It was dark, she was in an unfamiliar location and she had been drinking. On the balance of probabilities, it's more likely than not that she has lost her way, lost her balance, gone over the cliff edge and suffered fatal injuries which resulted in that death."


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