Doncaster man’s flat plunge horror

Cusworth House, St James Street, Doncaster
Cusworth House, St James Street, Doncaster

A man has spoken of the horrific moment a suicidal stranger plunged to her death from his 13th floor Doncaster flat – despite trying to save her.

Doncaster coroners’ court was told Karen Palmer gained access to the Cusworth House flats in St James Road in Doncaster town centre and made her way her to the 13th floor, before knocking on the door of Blaine Beddows and bluffing her way in. The 54-year-old woman entered the flat block at around 8.30am on ­October 29, 2014.

She told Mr Beddows she was interested in renting a flat on the same floor and wanted to see how big it was and measure the dimensions.

He allowed Miss Palmer, of Saville Road, Wath-upon-Dearne, inside and helped her measure the living room, before going to find a pen and paper and some rope at her request.

By the time he returned to his living room she was climbing over his balcony and on to the ledge.

“Her legs were on the balcony, and I ran over and grabbed her,” Mr Beddows told the court.

“I had hold of her coat. She wasn’t saying anything.

“But then she tried to wriggle free out of her coat. I think the weight on her coat made her fall.

“I didn’t look down, and I didn’t know what to do so I phoned my sister and she told me to phone the police.

“But by that time the police were already there.”

Miss Palmer was pronounced dead on the scene.

The court was told she had struggled with depression and anxiety problems for decades, and in the months leading up to her death began complaining of stomach problems, which she believed were being caused by bowel cancer.

She was also convinced she had been poisoned and visited her GP, NHS drop-in centres and accident and emergency departments in Rotherham and Coventry dozens of times between August to October.

But medics could not find anything physically wrong with her and she was referred for a mental health assessment in Rotherham in October last year.

Wath community psychiatric nurse Mark Fenwick assessed Miss Palmer the day before her death on October 28 last year and noted she displayed ‘anxious’ behaviour but added he did not believe she was suffering from any type of psychosis and believed she was unlikely to harm herself.

Miss Palmer’s on-and-off partner James Harrison said during the same three month period her behaviour had become increasingly erratic.

Mr Harrison said: “There was a marked change to her in the three weeks running up to her death.

“She seemed anxious a lot of the time, and said a friend had to come to visit her and she didn’t want me to meet her.”

He told the court the relationship ended between the couple the week of her death because Miss Palmer believed he had tried to poison her by putting battery acid into her coffee.

Miss Palmer’s long-term friend Joan Ratman said Miss Palmer had stopped taking her anti-depressants and had begun talking to herself and writing things on her body and walls with her finger.

Senior coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a verdict of suicide and said she believed a culmination of problems with anxiety, the belief she was suffering from extensive medical problems and ‘tensions in her relationships’ with friends had caused her death.