Mystery surrounds tragic sea drowning

Fleetwood Magistrates' Court
Fleetwood Magistrates' Court

A woman from Bispham drowned in the sea just two days before Christmas, an inquest heard.

Lorraine Ashton, 49, of Edmonton Place, was found on the beach close to the Royal Venue pub in Cleveleys, on December 23 last year.

The hearing at Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court was told there were no suspicious circumstances to her death and that the police were satisfied no third party was involved in the tragedy.

However, Simon Jones, the coroner for West Lancashire and Preston, said he could not be sure how Coventry-born Miss Ashton ended up in the sea.

Recording an open verdict, he said: “There are several possibilities; that she committed suicide; that she accidentally fell in the water; that she went into the sea, possibly to rescue an animal, and couldn’t get out.

“All are possible, but without sufficient evidence I cannot be certain, therefore I must record an open verdict.”

The inquest was told the sea had been rough, and conditions windy but dry on the day she Miss Ashton found.

Det Insp Andy Bunn, based in Fleetwood, said Miss Ashton’s body had washed up on the beach, close to some rocks.

A post mortem found she had died from drowning and there was no evidence of drink or alcohol in her blood.

Dr Richard Shepherd, a Home Office pathologist, said: “I am satisfied in this case that the cause of death was drowning. There was no evidence she had been attacked or of injuries other than those consistent with being in the sea, where there are rocks.”

The inquest heard there was no record of Miss Ashton accessing mental health services prior to her death.

The coroner also read out a written statement from a neighbour, who told police he had noticed a change in Miss Ashton in the days before her death. He said she had always been friendly and spared a few minutes to talk to him.

However, several times in the last week of her life she had crossed the road and ignored him, which the neighbour thought was strange.

Mr Jones concluded: “I don’t know the circumstances of her being in the sea.”

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