Open verdict on woman killed in balcony plunge

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A FUN-loving woman who enthusiastically celebrated England’s win over Slovenia in the World Cup plunged to her death from a fifth storey penthouse balcony in Singapore only hours later.

Sarah Royle, 31, known affectionately as “Sharkey” because of her love of sharks, died in June 2010 after both her sisters agreed to switch her life support machine off following doctors’ advice.

Yesterday Jo Royle, 36, and Premsa, 34, relived the agony of that moment at an inquest in Halifax.

The court heard Miss Royle, of Hebden Bridge, suffered massive head injuries when she fell from the roof garden after enjoying a night spent drinking with friends whom she had met recently.

Doctors at Tan Tock Seng hospital switched off her life support three days later with the consent of both sisters who had flown in to be at her bedside after a major fundraising effort raised thousands of pounds to help the family.

Former West Yorkshire Coroner Roger Whittaker said he was forced to record an open verdict owing to “insufficient evidence”.

He said: “She never regained consciousness after that dreadful fall.” He added that there had been an extremely thorough investigation by the Singaporean police and an equally meticulous autopsy report by Prof Gilbert Lau.

The sisters said afterwards they were more than happy with Mr Whittaker’s verdict.

They had attended an inquest in Singapore in November last year, where a verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Jo Royle said: “This was just a formality to us, Singapore was very thorough, it answered all our questions.

“With the witness statements and extensive photographic evidence it all made sense.

“We did get closure from Singapore even though we had to wait a long time. It was very emotional and hard but we did get closure, and before that I didn’t really know what that meant.

“Sarah would be really glad that this is the final piece of the puzzle.

“I think she’d be happy that we’re finally at peace now and getting on with our lives. She knows that we miss her so much.”

Premsa added: “We’re so happy that she was in our life even though it was very short.”

The sisters said Miss Royle had gone to Singapore – “her favourite country in the world” – only briefly from Australia, where she was working, because her visa had expired and she had to leave the country in order to reapply.

She and the group she was with had been in high spirits following the England victory and had gone to a nightclub. Premsa said: “There’s photographs of her from the night. She was in really high spirits, climbing scaffolding and having a laugh.” After leaving the club, Miss Royle went to Englishman Laurence Duckett’s apartment alone.

Jo said: “The pair were drinking by the swimming pool when he left to get more alcohol. At this point the pair lost touch with each other.” They said Miss Royle had gone looking for him and ended up in the wrong apartment.

After the female resident discovered her, a shocked Miss Royle panicked and left through the back entrance of the apartment on to a roof garden. As she tried to negotiate her way back into the block, she fell through several metal awnings and landed just feet away from the swimming pool. More than 200 people attended Miss Royle’s funeral service following the repatriation of her body to this country.