A Coroner’s Court jury returned an open verdict on Monday after hearing evidence relating to the death of a woman who fell from the Caribbean Club building.
Shakara Lisa Bonny Taylor, 31, died after falling from the building on May 29, 2013.
Government pathologist Dr. Shavrana Jyoti told jurors that Ms. Taylor died from multiple blunt trauma injuries to the head, chest and abdomen, the majority of which would have been fatal when considered individually.
A toxicology report showed no illegal drugs or alcohol, he said, and there were no injury marks on her neck suggestive of an assault, and no defensive injuries on her forearms or fingers.
The pathologist said he learned after his autopsy report that Ms. Taylor had consulted a cardiologist after fainting in London’s Heathrow Airport in December 2012. A letter from that specialist referred to syncope, explained as a loss of consciousness and premature heartbeats. Ms. Taylor was not placed on any medication, but was going to be examined again after a stress test.
The woman’s fiance, David Ravenscroft, told jurors that he and Ms. Taylor had been engaged to be married. They had met five to seven years earlier, but “got together” three or four months before they came to Cayman in 2010. She worked for his company and her work permit expired in 2012, but they didn’t renew it because they were getting married.
They set July 6, 2013, as the date for their wedding, but in March, 2013, he postponed it, telling her they should “wait and see where we are in six months’ time.”
Questioned by Queen’s Coroner Eileen Nervik about Ms. Taylor’s reaction, he replied, “When I first mentioned it, she was absolutely distraught.” She did not display that on May 29, he added.
After her death, he said friends of hers told him that Ms. Taylor was bipolar. On reflection, he realized that she did have very quick mood swings. He said he also learned that she had tried to commit suicide when she was in school and again when she split up with a former boyfriend.
Early in the morning of May 29, 2013, they talked about the wedding being called off and he said they should give it six months. “She seemed to be down in the dumps and struggling to deal with it,” he said.
Later, she was calm and matter of fact, he said. They left the house just after 11 a.m. and she dropped him off at the Westin so he could go to the health club there. He said he would text her when he was done, and she said she would come and get him. She gave him a hug and a kiss goodbye. He did not know where she was going, he said. When he texted her after finishing at the club between 12:30 p.m. and 12:40 p.m., there was no answer and he got a taxi home.
Jurors heard a statement from the taxi driver as well as the receptionist and manager of the health club at the Westin.
Police later informed Mr. Ravenscroft of Ms. Taylor’s death. He did not know why she was at Caribbean Club, as they had no friends who stayed there.
In her summing up of the evidence, Queen’s Coroner Eileen Nervik reminded jurors that there was no eye witness; no one witnessed Ms. Taylor falling from the seventh floor of the building. There was no evidence of anyone else being present.
Investigating officer Karen McQuade brought CCTV footage from the Caribbean Club. Footage showed that Ms. Taylor arrived at 12:16 p.m. and walked to the external elevator. Without a guest card, the only access was to the ground floor, basement and seventh floor.
About two minutes later, she is seen inside the elevator, pressing a button. Forty seconds after that, she alights from the elevator on what is believed to be the seventh floor. Eight minutes later, she is seen re-entering the elevator. Some 38 seconds after that, she exits the elevator again, at 12:28 p.m. Moments later, the CCTV captured an image of a figure lying on the ground below.
Community youth worker Jeremy Rice told the court that he was selling Little League tickets at Foster’s in The Strand. He could see the Caribbean Club; the top two floors had balconies while the roof was open to the elements. There was a door that looked like an emergency door.
It was raining on and off and there was thunder and lightning. He could not give an exact time, but he saw a person move quickly across the rooftop to the emergency door and going inside. He thought it was a tourist spooked by the lightning. He was sure there was just this one person. He said the person appeared to be built like a man, “just by the way they were moving.”
Officer McQuade said investigations included examination of Ms. Taylor’s iPad and laptop. There was no suicide note. Phone records showed she was very upset but there was no mention that she would kill herself. No one the officer spoke to gave any information that would indicate Ms. Taylor was suicidal.
The officer subsequently produced medical records from the Lancashire Health Authority in the U.K. dating from 1999 to 2009, which indicated that Ms. Taylor had a past history of mental illness that included a period of residential psychiatric care. She had overdosed around the age of 15. The U.K. records also referred to clinical depression, obsessive/compulsive disorder, alcohol and drug abuse and an eating disorder. There was no record of mental health issues in Cayman.
After deliberating for about an hour and a half, the jurors returned their verdict of open verdict. An open verdict means there is not enough evidence to return any other possible verdict: natural causes, misadventure or suicide.