Major update on Stonehouse ‘murder’ inquiry

POLICE have ruled out foul play as the cause of death of a 59-year-old woman who fell downstairs after drinking heavily during her first date with a man in Gloucester, a coroner heard last week.

Following the death of Jaqueline Walker police arrested a 53 year old man on suspicion of murder.

But an inquest in Gloucester heard last Thursday (November 3) that police investigating the tragedy ultimately concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances.

The assistant Gloucestershire Coroner, Roland Wooderson, closed the inquest after recording a narrative conclusion, saying “Jaqueline Walker, aged 59, died on November 28, 2021, at Bath Road, Stonehouse.

Ms Walker’s address was given as Firgrove Crescent, Yate.

“Police officers were called to that address and found her at the bottom of the staircase.

“CPR was commenced, but Ms Walker was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The police concluded as part of their investigation that there was no third-party involvement in the death of Ms Walker.

“The medical cause of death is recorded as a blunt head injury in a woman who had taken alcohol.”

The inquest heard that Ms Walker had taken a train to Gloucester on Nov 27th last year for a first date with the 53-year-old man she had met online.

He travelled to the city by bus for the rendezvous.

The man was not named by the Coroner at any time during the inquest hearing.

The man and Ms Walker spent the afternoon and early evening together in Gloucester, during which they visited a variety of pubs in the city.

CCTV obtained during the police investigation showed them apparently having a good time together, the coroner said.

They later travelled to Stonehouse and dropped into a pub on the way back to his home.

The pub landlord observed that Ms Walker was unsteady on her feet when she left.

CCTV cameras in Stonehouse captured them both being unsteady on their feet as they walked to his home.

On arrival at his flat in Bath Road, Stonehouse, Ms Walker said she was hungry and wanted to eat but the man told her that he wasn’t sure if there was a takeaway that would still be open at that time of the morning.

He said that they would go out and look.

He went into his flat to go to the toilet, with the intention of going back out to see if any outlets were still open.

As he entered the flat, the man stated, he recalled seeing Ms Walker sitting halfway up the stairs. He said that as he flushed the toilet he heard five or six thumping sounds.

He then saw that Ms Walker was at the bottom of the stairs and he went to her.

He said he cradled her head and when he realised blood was pouring out all over him he put her down and called for an ambulance at just after midnight.

The police were alerted by ambulance paramedics at 12.30am.

The paramedics stated that it appeared the woman had been assaulted and she was not breathing.

Ms Walker’s life was pronounced extinct at 1.35am, at the scene.

Police officers stated that they noticed there was a lot of blood on the walls.

The man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Leadbeatter stated that Ms Walker had suffered from lacerations to the right side of the scalp, a thin subarachnoid haemorrhage, broken ribs and minor laceration to her lung – but he said some of the injuries could be due to medics carrying out CPR on the woman.

The doctor said there was no evidence of any pressure being applied to her neck.

He added that he did not see anything that would suggest that Ms Walker had been assaulted.

However, he did find that she had consumed a large quantity of alcohol, equivalent to just over twice the legal limit for driving.

Her blood alcohol level was 176 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Dr Leadbeatter concluded that the medical cause of death was blunt head injury in a woman who had taken alcohol.

Detective Inspector David Satchwell stated that police initially thought Ms Walker had been assaulted by the man she had spent the day with, or by an unknown person, or that she had suffered a medical episode which caused her to fall to her death, or that she had just fallen down the stairs.

Inspector Satchwell concluded there was no third-party involvement in the death of Ms Walker.

He added that the arrested man had been informed that he was no longer a suspect, having given an account of the day which was consistent with the CCTV that had been obtained.

He suggested that Ms Walker died from one, or both, of two factors – alcohol intoxication and/or a medical episode, which caused her to fall down the stairs.

The coroner said he had taken note of the toxicological evidence as to the extent of the alcohol consumed by Ms Walker on the day of her death.

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