A* student died at cliffs near Eastbourne

An 18-year-old was found dead at the cliffs near Eastbourne last year.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 9:14 am

Matthew Powell died at Beachy Head on September 9 last year, an inquest held at Eastbourne Town Hall on March 18 heard.

Mr Powell, a barman from Pontypridd in Wales, travelled to Eastbourne on September 5 prior to his death.

He was said to have a history of mental health problems but he wasn’t on anti-depressants, according to his GP, Dr Alasdair Jessup.

Eastbourne Town Hall SUS-210216-141612001

The inquest heard Mr Powell was 13 when his younger brother, Owen, died from cancer.

Paul Williams, Mr Powell’s step-father, said, “Matthew took it badly.”

Since Owen’s death, Mr Powell received therapy which Mr Williams said ‘worked wonders’.

Mr Williams said, “Matthew was an A* student at school and he loved his job.”

The inquest heard that on Mr Powell’s journey down to Eastbourne on September 5, he was involved in a road traffic collision but didn’t suffer any injuries.

Police constable Rhiannon Duffy, who attended the collision, said, “He was rather positive considering the circumstances.”

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said, “Personally I don’t think the collision contributed to his actions. It won’t have helped, but I don’t think it played a part.”

Mr Williams said he was in touch with Mr Powell and on the evening of September 6 the pair met up in Eastbourne at the Cavendish Hotel on Grand Parade, where Mr Powell was staying for a few days.

Mr Powell said he would return to Pontypridd on September 8.

Police constable Alexander Belshaw was called to a separate incident at Beachy Head on September 8 and found Mr Powell sleeping near the cliff edge at 6.40am, the inquest heard.

PC Belshaw said, “He happily engaged and packed up his stuff. He told us he’d come to see friends in Eastbourne and said he’d go back to the Cavendish Hotel. No suicidal comments were made and there was no cause for concern.”

Mr Powell spoke to Mr Williams on September 8, telling him he would return that day as planned.

However, on the morning of September 9, Mr Williams got a phone call from Sussex Police who had found Mr Powell’s body at Beachy Head cliffs.

Mr Craze said, “There was a pretty deep depression there. I suspect such thoughts were with him for a long period of time.”

He ruled Mr Powell took his own life.

• If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help - the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.