Depressed ex-teacher died in 300ft plunge from cliffs

A FORMER teacher with a long history of depression died after plunging 300ft from cliffs at Bempton on the Yorkshire coast.

An inquest heard yesterday that Judith Hughes, 64, was under the care of a mental health team at the time of her death in March and had made previous suicide attempts.

The hearing in Hull was told that fishermen who were on top of the cliffs close to the RSPB reserve saw a figure climb over a fence and slide out of view before hearing a loud noise a few minutes later.

Coastguards were called and a search and rescue helicopter recovered Mrs Hughes's body.

The inquest heard Mrs Hughes, of Marton Road, Bridlington, who was born in Withernsea and educated at Malet Lambert School in Hull, took early retirement from her job due to a stress-related illness in 1991.

Not long afterwards her father died and she later became obsessed with her mother's deteriorating condition.

In July 2006 she went away with the choir she sang with to Germany. But when she and her husband John returned home she started acting abnormally and in August she had to be admitted to the psychiatric ward at Bridlington Hospital.

Mr Hughes told the hearing the following February his wife began talking about killing herself and it became a topic that repeatedly cropped up in conversation, putting their relationship under stress.

In May 2007 she was admitted again voluntarily to the Buckrose ward at Bridlington Hospital and was prescribed electro-convulsive therapy. In September, she had to be readmitted after she was found unconscious at the foot of stairs with a washing line attached to the banister.

Mr Hughes said: "She said she just regretted that it hadn't worked as she had intended it to work." Mrs Hughes was treated with ECT but she was soon talking about killing herself again.

By March this year Bempton Cliff started to feature in conversations.

Mr Hughes, who found two suicide notes, wiped his eyes as he said: "It was clear that she felt that ending her life was what she wanted to do. The thing that haunts me is the clarity of her thinking." Coroner Geoffrey Saul recorded a verdict that Mrs Hughes took her life.