A TELEVISION fitness guru jumped off Beachy Head after telling her girlfriend that “her heart was broken, her spirit was broken”.
Angie Dowds, who was best known for her no nonsense approach to contestants on ITV’s popular weight loss programme The Biggest Loser, leapt from the cliff tops on November 20 last year.
And an inquest into her death held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court heard how a series of text messages sent to her partner, Edwina Benson, made it clear she intended to take her own life.
As well as telling Miss Benson – who herself was in hospital at the time of her death – about her broken spirit, Miss Dowds had said she would be “at peace soon”.
Days before her suicide, the TV personality had also told her brother, Kevin Dowds, that she had had enough and in the weeks before she died she had been growing worried about where her career was heading and where she was going to live.
A witness, Brendan Murphy, said he had seen Miss Dowds “walking purposefully” towards the edge of the notorious suicide spot at around 4.30pm on the Sunday evening. A second person also reported seeing the 42-year-old jump off.
Because of high winds a rescue helicopter was unable to recovered her body from the water’s edge so coastguards were sent to collect it by boat and it was confirmed during Thursday’s hearing that it would have been impossible for Miss Dowds to survive the fall.
The inquest was also told that the fitness fanatic had a long history of alcoholism and that a post mortem found she was slightly over the drink driving limit when she jumped.
However, coroner Katherine Palmer said because of her drinking habits, that amount was unlikely to have impaired her decision making.
Miss Dowds had previously spoken about ending her life, both to her partner and a sister. She had also taken an overdose in January of last year but survived before spending a spell in rehab – a spell which ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Mr Dowds was critical of the support his sister received from mental health staff and questioned whether she was in a position to decide whether or not to continue her treatment.
He also said he had been shocked by her appearance the last time they had met, describing her as looking like she had had the stuffing knocked out of her. Nevertheless, he said, he left that last meeting with a sense of optimism that his sister was going to get better.
Mr Dowds spoke to her on the phone twice on the Friday before her death and said he would have to live with the fact he did not do more to help her that weekend but said there were often times when she would appear chaotic but be back to normal within a couple of days. He and his sister, explained Mr Dowds, shared a deep bond.
He also lamented the fact that an administrative error meant an appointment which was meant to be made for his sister was not made. An investigation into that failing is now underway.
Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner said, “I’m satisfied that Angie did commit suicide.
“I don’t believe that Angie accidentally fell from the cliffs, but took a step off the cliff deliberately.”