An open verdict has today (Thursday) been recorded at an inquest into the death of Angela June Claire Slater, 48 of Salterns Way, Poole, who died after driving her Fiat 500 Abarth over the cliff edge at Compton near Freshwater last October.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 18:30 on 16th October 2012 after witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be a small car plunge over the cliff near to Freshwater Bay. The Needles Coastguard Rescue Team were deployed to Military Road alongside Police, where they abseiled down the cliff face to the vehicle which had come to rest on the rocks below.
The inquest heard how teams discovered Ms Slater’s body around 15ft away from the vehicle with her right arm having become severed and caught up in the hatchback’s seat belt, initially leading rescue teams to believe two persons had been involved in the incident.
Coastguard Rescue 104 helicopter was tasked to recover the body from the foot of the cliffs to awaiting undertakers.
Evidence presented explained how Ms Slater, who was originally from Leicester, had experienced a difficult childhood after her mother suffered a stroke during childbirth and that Angela had suffered abuse at a local Sunday school. After leaving the country to live and work in South Africa for 5 years, Ms Slater returned to Bournemouth to start a new life, where she met her partner Mr Steve McGill, a company director.
Following a suicide attempt in 2003, Ms Slater was under mental health teams on the mainland and had been diagnosed with Recurrent Depressive Disorder. Again in May 2012, Ms Slater attempted suicide while training to become a Councillor.
It is believed her parent’s ill-health and care was a trigger for Ms Slater’s behaviour.
Mr McGill, who was in San Francisco at the time of Angela’s death, told the inquest how he believed his partner of 9 years had carried out a ‘dry run’ just three weeks before at Studland in Dorset, when Ms Slater claimed she had hit a wild bird before smashing through barbed wire and coming to rest in a field.
Coroner Caroline Sumeray explained to the court room how a verdict of suicide could not be recorded because 5 letters left by Angela Slater, later discovered by her partner, did not include any suggestion that Angela was going to end her life.
An open verdict was recorded, with the cause of death being multiple injuries caused by trauma.