Teenagers praised for actions following Sheringham cliff fall

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Den

Eastgate House, Thorpe Road, where the Coroner's Court is situated in the ground floor. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A coroner has praised the actions of four teenagers who rushed to the aid of a 27-year-old man after he fell from a cliff.

James Townshend was spotted by a group of lifeguards hanging from Beeston Bump, in Sheringham, on July 4 last year.

An inquest in Norwich yesterday heard how they ran over to help him after he fell to the ground and suffered numerous injuries.

Mr Townshend, who was homeless, was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, but died two days later.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Holroyd praised the efforts of the teenagers for trying to help him.

In a statement, Harry Jenkins described the moment he saw Mr Townshead while swimming in the sea with his friends.

'As I got to 30m from the beach, I looked up to the top of the cliff and I saw what appeared to be two people, one tall and one short,' he said.

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'The tall one appeared to be hanging on to the top of the cliff and appeared to be either climbing up or going down. The figure then appeared to slip.'

Mr Jenkins, who is a trainee life guard, said the group swam quickly to bottom of the cliff where they immediately put the man in the recovery position. While one of them carried out chest compressions and breaths, the others stopped people from gathering round and called emergency services.

The man's possessions had fallen with him and Mr Jenkins realised he had mistaken a sleeping bag for another person.

Mr Townshend, who was unconscious following the fall, was later flown to hospital by air ambulance.

The inquest heard how the father-of-three was originally from Norwich, but spent time sleeping rough at various locations.

On July 1 last year he returned to Norfolk and visited the James Paget University Hospital, where he was complained of having suicidal thoughts. After receiving support, he was released on July 3.

A post mortem examination found he died from hypoxic brain injury caused by a fall.

Mr Holroyd said evidence was not sufficient to enable a conclusion of suicide to be reached.

He gave a narrative conclusion, stating on July 4 Mr Townshend had a witnessed fall, which caused fatal injury.

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