Inquest verdicts of Felpham mother and daughter

Inquests into the deaths of a Felpham mother who threw herself off a cliff after her four-year-old daughter was believed to have drowned were concluded today.

Questions surrounding the death of Keira Madden will go unanswered after West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield recorded an open verdict at Chichester Magistrates Court.

Keira was found dead in a bedroom of her detached family home on Roundle Avenue at 2.30pm last July 3.

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A note allegedly written by her mother Cathy was found near Keira’s body which said her daughter had drowned. It claimed the pair were at the beach and Keira slipped and drowned while she was in the water.

Dr Olaf Biedrzycki, the consultant pathologist who preformed Keira’s post-mortem investigation, told the inquest he could not be absolutely certain whether Keira had drowned accidentally.

Mrs Schofield also recorded the verdict that Cathy took her own life by throwing herself off a cliff at Birling Gap Cliffs near Eastbourne.

The inquest heard that chaplains had failed to persuade the 40-year-old from taking her own life.

Initial post-mortem tests conducted on Mrs Madden confirmed she died from multiple injuries consistent with a fall.

Passing on her condolences, Mrs Schofield said: “This has been one of the most difficult case I have had to deal with. There is so much suspicion surrounding Keira’s death.

“To return a verdict of unlawfully killing I must be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt, and I am not. However as there are so many unanswered questions I cannot return a verdict of natural death either. Therefore I must return an open verdict.

“Sadly for the family, today has not provided the answers needed. There will be considerable publicity following this case and I do hope people with information will come forward.”

Concluding the inquest into the death of Mrs Madden, which followed immediately after Keira’s, Mrs Schofield said: “Cathy was said to be of a fragile mind and I have no doubt the death of her daughter was enough for her to want to take her own life. She lived her life for her daughter.”