The inquest heard how former Ventnor Middle School and Medina High School student Mr Hayball, 20, of Nelson Road, Newport had traveled to Culver Cliff in the early hours of the 11th October 2012 following a serious argument with his on-off girlfriend and mother of his two children, Shannon Woodford.
The couple, who met while at Medina High School, had visited Cineworld Cinema on a date ahead of going drinking in two bars in Newport town. An argument erupted between them before the couple returned to Ms Woodford’s house where her mother was babysitting their two children.
At the inquest, Ms Woodford explained how Hayball physically attacked her, splitting her lip and smashing her head against the stairs, as well as goading her to hitting him back. As tensions rose, Ms Woodford did hit Robert – he retaliated by spitting blood in her face before leaving the property.
At 02:44, Robert sent a text message to Ms Woodford prompting her to phone him – as she did, she heard Robert driving over a field, through a fence and over the cliff edge, before the call cut out.
The Vauxhall combo van smashed into the rocks below and become submerged in the water. Despite the efforts of Coastguard Rescue Teams from Bembridge, Bembridge RNLI and the Hampshire Constabulary Marine Unit, the vehicle could not be reached in the rough conditions.
At 13:11, officers from Hampshire Constabulary located Hayball’s body approximately 50m from the vehicle, before transferring the deceased to undertakers at Trinity Landing, Cowes.
A post-mortem examination found that Robert died of multiple injuries and trauma.
A toxicology report showed 143mg of alcohol present in Robert’s blood per 100ml, nearly twice the legal drink-drive limit of 80mg. The drug Naproxen was also present in Robert’s body, however the inquest did not establish why Robert had taken the anti-inflammatory drug.
Coroner Caroline Sumeray concluded that a verdict of suicide could not be reached, as the levels of alcohol in Robert’s body could have clouded his judgement as to whether his actions would indeed end his life. She recorded an open verdict.
Robert Hayball was today described as a good, honest person who loved his friends, family and children.