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Porthleven cliff death jump was 'impulsive'
7:00am Friday 31st August 2012 in Cornwall
A TROUBLED student threw himself off a Porthleven cliff after arguing with his ex-girlfriend at a masked ball, an inquest heard.
Matt Pollard, 20, had been ejected from the event in the early hours of May 2, 2010, after getting into a fight before he climbed a fence and scrambled through gorse bushes to reach the top of the cliff.
Despite the efforts of two friends to persuade him to come back, he apologised for the upset he was causing his family and friends before jumping over the edge of the 100ft cliff.
He was rushed to hospital, but died that afternoon from multiple injuries, including a fractured skull.
The inquest, heard in Truro, was told that Mr Pollard had made three previous suicide attempts in 2006, although none were deemed to be of a “serious” nature.
He was treated by a community psychiatric nurse at the time, and there were no further incidents until the week before the masked ball in 2010, when he had cut his arm with a kitchen knife.
His GP, Dr James Oliver, told the hearing that Mr Pollard had explained he was under pressure from his forthcoming exams, but that he was not intending to take his own life.
He had advised him to seek treatment on his return to Warwick University.
Friends told the coroner that Mr Pollard had recently split up with his girlfriend Laura Gillott, and had been involved in an argument with her on the night of the masked ball.
In a written statement read out at the hearing, Miss Gillott said: “Matt said he was going to go and throw himself off the cliff, I said he would not and walked off.”
He had then become involved in a fight with another reveller, which led security staff to eject him from the ball. Friend Paul Wadsworth saw the fight and followed Mr Pollard when the doorstaff took him outside.
Mr Wadsworth told the hearing how Mr Pollard ran off towards the cliff, climbing over a barbed wire fence and through gorse bushes to reach the cliff edge.
He followed him, but Mr Pollard told him not to come any closer.
Mr Wadsworth told the coroner: “I said what are you doing, it is your friends and family you are hurting by doing this.
“I just thought if he didn’t care about himself I could make him think about them.
“He started crying, and said to me, you are my best friend, it is not your fault, and he told me to tell his friends and family it was not their fault, but that he could not go on any more.
“The next thing I knew, he jumped off the cliff.
“I have replayed it hundreds of times in my mind asking myself if I could have done anything, if I could have dived forward and caught him.”
DC Neil Harvey, who was the investigating officer on the case, told the hearing he was satisfied there had been no third party involvement in Mr Pollard’s death, and that the security staff at the ball had behaved appropriately in ejecting him. Summing up, Coroner Andrew Cox said: “I have no doubt that Matt threw himself over the cliff edge, but what I have doubt over is whether he intended to do so.
“There is, in his medical history, evidence of impulsive acts that were anger related.
“I believe that his judgement may have been affected by the alcohol he had consumed that evening.
“I do not find that he deliberately intended to kill himself, I think this was an impulsive act.
“I think that if he had been talked back from the cliff edge he would have regretted putting himself in that position.
“For that reason, I will not record a verdict of suicide.
“I do not consider the events to be an accident, but what I will say is that the evidence does not persuade me of Matt’s intent.”
Mr Cox recorded an open verdict.
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