Open verdict recorded at inquest of Wensleydale woman

Harrogate Justice Centre.

A coroner said he could not be sure whether a woman found dead in a quarry had meant to take her own life or had slipped.

An inquest at Harrogate Justice Centre yesterday heard that Mary Jefferson’s body was found in the water at the bottom of cliffs at Harmby Quarry, near Leyburn, on March 12 this year.

The hearing heard how Mrs Jefferson, 57, a mother of two, who lived on the family farm in Harmby, had suffered from depression and psychotic episodes since 2015 and had been admitted to the mental health unit at the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton on several occasions.

She was also seen regularly by a community mental health nurse.

However, husband Alan Jefferson and the nurse, Louise Woodward, told the hearing that they thought Mrs Jefferson’s health was improving in the weeks before her death.

On the morning of her death, Mr Jefferson drove past the kitchen window of their farmhouse and waved to his wife.

Mr Jefferson said she waved back, adding: “If she hadn’t I’d have gone in.”

The farmer raised the alarm after going in for breakfast and finding that his wife was not there.

The hearing heard that Mrs Jefferson had been found at the bottom of Harmby Quarry in 2016 with serious injuries.

It was unclear whether in this incident she had slipped or had jumped, but the mental health nurse said she had told her she had jumped.

Recording an open verdict, Coroner Rob Turnbull said he could not be sure whether Mrs Jefferson had deliberately meant to jump or had slipped.

He said: “I’m not satisfied that I can say with certainty that Mrs Jefferson committed suicide.

“Likewise I can’t be certain that it was an accident and she slipped.”

If you need to discuss your mental health or that of someone you are caring for you can call the North Yorkshire mental health team on 0333 0000 309.

This is a confidential and anonymous service. The number is free to call from mobile phones.

You can also call the Samaritans at anytime on 116123.

For more details click here