Depressed woman died in 120ft cliff plunge

A SOUTH Tyneside mother died instantly when her car plunged off a 120ft cliff after an "error of judgement", an inquest heard.

Susan Pearce's Renault Megane was found at the bottom of cliffs off the Coast Road in Marsden, South Shields, on Sunday, January 3.

The 47-year-old had been reported missing by her son after she failed to return home to Lisle Road, Harton, South Shields, over the weekend.

It wasn't until January 7 that her body was washed up on Redcar beach in Cleveland.

Coroner Terence Carney told an inquest at South Tyneside Register Office yesterday how the vehicle ended up on the beach, just south of the Marsden Grotto pub.

He said: "It appeared the car left the road, was driven over a grassy area, through a metal barrier and over the cliff edge.

"The deceased had then been thrown clear, but was swept out to sea."

The inquest heard how Mrs Pearce, who had suffered depression for a number of years, was last seen by a friend on Saturday, January 2, at about 11pm.

A neighbour saw her car being driven from her home just after midnight.

Her car was discovered nine hours later, on the beach by a passer-by, but he had assumed it would have already been reported, so did nothing.

Home Office pathologist, Dr Jennifer Hamilton, revealed that Mrs Pearce was twice the drink-driving limit and also had a low trace of anti-depression medication in her system.

She said: "The deceased had significant head, chest and abdominal injuries, any one of which alone would have been responsible for death.

"I can say, without any hesitation, death would have been instantaneous and she wouldn't have felt anything.She did not drown."

Mrs Pearce's husband, Leslie, said his wife did not want to take her own life.

He said: "She didn't want to die, she had so much to live for. She was expecting her second grandchild, had no money troubles, a lovely car, and was looking forward to going on holiday."

Mr Carney echoed these points, saying: "My view is she shouldn't have been driving. Where she was going, I know not. There's no evidence to suggest she was going to kill herself."

* Verdict: Misadventure