UK coroner records open verdict in hotel fall death

Shakara Taylor fell from a seventh floor balcony in Cayman

After hearing contradictory testimony on Shakara Taylor’s state of mind in the days and hours before she fell from a seventh floor balcony of the Caribbean Club hotel in Grand Cayman, a coroner in the United Kingdom recorded an open verdict, U.K. media report. 

Questions about how and why Ms. Taylor, 31, a championship dancer from the U.K., fell in May 2013 remain open after the verdict. A Cayman Islands Coroner’s Court jury had also reached an open verdict at an inquest held earlier this year into Ms. Taylor’s death. 

Ms. Taylor’s fiance David Ravenscroft had told her that he wanted to call off their wedding, which was set for the following month, the inquest heard. 

“It’s understandable to assume that this young lady had jumped to her death, but when one adheres to the necessary standard of proof, I fall short of being able to reach that conclusion,” Alan Walsh, the Blackpool, U.K. coroner, said in recording the verdict. 

“I can’t be sure, bearing in mind all the evidence we have heard, that it was her intention to jump to her death from that hotel complex on that day,” Mr. Walsh said, according to the Blackpool Gazette. 

Mr. Ravenscroft told the court that he and Ms. Taylor continued to live in George Town together in the weeks between when he called off the wedding and when she fell to her death. In a statement read out in court, he said, “She seemed to be down in the dumps and struggling to deal with it.” 

“I didn’t feel like I wanted to marry, although we were still together, and I said we should wait and see where we were in six months’ time,” local media quoted Mr. Ravenscroft as saying. 

Alan Kelly, Ms. Taylor’s stepfather, told the court he had spoken to her in the week before her death. “She had dealt with things in her life before and she was dealing with the wedding not going ahead. I didn’t believe for a minute that she would have taken her own life for that reason,” he said, according to Gazette. 

Medical records showed that Ms. Taylor had a history of mental health issues, including in-patient psychiatric care. Mr. Ravenscroft said he didn’t know about his fiancee’s two earlier suicide attempts and diagnosis of bipolar disorder until after her death. 

The court heard that Ms. Taylor dropped Mr. Ravenscroft off at a health club, gave him a hug and kiss, and promised to pick him up later. CCTV recorded Ms. Taylor going to the seventh floor of the Caribbean Club, which, the court heard, was the only floor accessible without a pass card. In the next security camera footage of her, she is on the ground. 

The coroner recorded the cause of death as multiple injuries to her head, chest and abdomen, all a result of the fall.