THE DEATH of a mother who hurled herself off cliffs at Beachy Head hours after her young daughter drowned in mysterious circumstances has been ruled as suicide.
Forty-year-old Cathy Madden’s body was found at the foot of the cliffs after chaplains had tried to disuade her from taking her life, an inquest heard.
Her four-year-old daughter Keira was discovered the same day, July 3, at the family’s home in Felpham.
Police officers had been sent to the home after Mrs Madden’s abandoned car was found near Beachy Head.
A note written by Mrs Madden 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 in the water.
The note said Keira was on her mother’s back while they swam in the sea when Mrs Madden became aware her daughter had become limp.
Dr Olaf Biedrzycki, the consultant pathologist who performed Keira’s post-mortem examination, told the inquest he could not be absolutely certain whether Keira had drowned accidentally.
Initial post-mortem tests conducted on Mrs Madden confirmed she died from multiple injuries consistent with a fall.
Keira’s father Steven Madden, who attended the inquest into his daughter’s death, lives and works in Germany. The couple were going through the process of a divorce at the time of the deaths of Mrs Madden and Keira.
West Sussex Coroner Penelope Schofield returned a verdict that Mrs Madden took her own life. She said, “On the third of July 2010, she was seen at Beachy Head by a chaplain.
“The chaplain had engaged in a conversation with her, and she gave him false identification details.
“Soon she turned and ran to the cliff edge. She suffered multiple injuries as a result of the fall.
“She left a suicide note saying she intended to take her own life.”
Mrs Schofield returned an open verdict on the death of Keira.
Passing on her condolences to the family, she added, “This has been one of the most difficult cases I have had to deal with. There is so much suspicion surrounding Keira’s death.
“To return a verdict of unlawful 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.”