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Death of Hadleigh woman who was found at the bottom of stairs ruled accidental





The death of a Hadleigh woman who was found at the bottom of the stairs in a shared occupancy home last year has today been ruled accidental.

Nicola Keeble, 53 of Market Place, was discovered with head and face injuries on January 20 last year by other residents in the home.

Today, Suffolk Coroner's Court was told Nicola, known by her friends and family as Nicki, was concious after the fall and was moved into her partner's room while they waited for an ambulance.

Nicola Keeble, 53 of Market Place, was discovered with head and face injuries on January 20 last year
Nicola Keeble, 53 of Market Place, was discovered with head and face injuries on January 20 last year

Upon arrival, paramedics saw Nicola had a lump and bruising to her head and she told them she was unable to recall the events leading up to her fall.

The inquest was told the 53-year-old was initially refusing to go to hospital and police officers were called to help escort her into the ambulance, but these were called off when she changed her mind and agreed to get treatment.

When she arrived at hospital, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she was placed in ICU for two weeks. On February 5 after her life support machines were removed, Nicola was pronounced dead.

On February 5 after her life support machines were removed, Nicola was pronounced dead
On February 5 after her life support machines were removed, Nicola was pronounced dead

In court today, statements were read from other residents in the shared occupancy home, all of which described Nicola's relationship with her partner, whom she met around eight weeks before her death and also lived at the address, as 'volatile'.

Residents said the couple would argue on an almost daily basis and that they would both drink heavily, which led to them becoming more argumentative.

Nicola had previously gone through alcohol detox, the court was told, and more recently had been offered help from Turning Point, but that she continued to abuse alcohol.

Virginia Fitzpatrick-Swallow, home office registered forensic pathologist, who carried out the post mortem examination on Nicola, said she found the death to be caused by complications arising from traumatic brain injury.

When asked by one of Nicola's family members, who was present in court today, Ms Fitzpatrick-Swallow said she could not completely rule out third party involvement due to the two-week window between the injuries and her death.

However, she said the injuries and hospital records were in keeping with that of a fall down the stairs and no other suspicious injuries or circumstances were identified in the examination.

On January 28, eight days after the 53-year-old was found injured, her partner was arrested in connection with the incident and taken for police questioning.

The court was told officers investigated his involvement in the fall, looking into whether he was culpable, if there had been a dispute before or whether Nicola had fallen accidentally.

Detective Inspector Daniel Connick, who was based in CID at Landmark House in Ipswich at the time of the investigation, called Nicola's death an 'unfortunate accident' and told the court there had been no inconsistencies in the statement given by her partner during questioning.

He added that the statement was corroborated by other residents who said they had not seen or heard any altercations before they discovered Nicola, and he was released with no further action.

Nigel Parsley, Senior Coroner for Suffolk, recorded the medical cause of death as complications from traumatic head injury and ruled the death was accidental.

Giving his conclusion, Mr Parsley thanked Nicola's family for the 'quiet dignity' they had shown throughout the inquest and offered his condolences.

In a statement read to the court Nicola's mother called the death a 'blow to all her family' and said they remain 'devastated' by the loss.

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