An inquest heard a Bridlington woman’s decision to end her own life by driving her car over a cliff edge was “completely out of character”.
Stephanie Jayne Walker, who had no history of mental illness, died instantly when her black Volkswagen Golf plunged to the bottom of Sewerby Cliffs last year.
Paying tribute to a “wonderful auntie” who was “full of life”, Mrs Walker’s family said in a statement: “Stephanie was and still is a very much loved family member and our lives have been turned upside down by the decision she made on October 9 2015.
“Steph showed no signs of depression which makes this tragedy even harder for us to comprehend. Steph was a fantastic auntie and has left an enormous hole in the young lives of her nephews and niece, as whenever she spent time with the children, she became a child herself - seeing the world through their eyes and seeking fun appropriately.”
Hull Coroner’s Court heard 44-year-old Stephanie took her own life after an argument with her partner Jonathan Hill on October 8 2015.
Giving evidence at the inquest on Wednesday (March 9), Mr Hill said the argument erupted when the couple returned from the Stirling Castle pub at around midnight, to discover their pet cat ‘Moses’ was missing.
He said: “She was wanting to go out walking the streets to look for the cat and I didn’t want her to. “It has returned before - there was no reason for her to go.”
Mr Hill told Mrs Walker to leave the flat and to stay at her sister’s - but she refused and he called the police.
He added: “I had never seen her behave like that before. She had left by the time police had got there.”
After locating her cat, Mrs Walker was seen by a member of staff at the Esso service station on Scarborough Road at around 2.30am.
In a statement read to the court, the worker said Mrs Walker purchased a Red Bull and cigarettes, but “did not look distressed”.
Upon opening returning to her car and opening the driver’s side door, Mrs Walker’s cat escaped and she spent half-an-hour trying to coax it back into the car.
She returned to her car and “sat there for a few minutes” before driving off towards Scarborough, without Moses the cat.
Mrs Walker’s family realised the worst when police notified them of the tragic discovery at Sewerby Cliffs - the same spot Stephanie’s family scattered her father’s ashes after he died in a car accident in 1992.
Her devastated relatives saw that Stephanie posted a Facebook status at 2.27am, which read: “Had enough. Love you all. The end”.
A post-mortem examination found Mrs Walker died instantly from severe head and spinal injuries she sustained from the fall.
Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Professor Paul Marks said: “I would like to extend my condolences for your unexpected loss. This was an action completely out of character.”
Speaking outside the coroner’s court, the family added: “Steph was an adored sister who felt that her position as the eldest child was of protector, and although as siblings there were the normal ups and downs, love from both sides always shone through.
“As a first child she had the joy of being an only one - for a short while - and has now left a mother without her eldest child.
“The only consolation we have is that the night Steph chose to leave us, she chose to go to our beloved dad, whose ashes were scattered 23 years earlier in the sea just off Sewerby Cliffs.
“Steph has left an entire family devastated but what our family want most is to remember Steph for the happy-go-lucky, full of life and beautiful person she was, and not for someone who spent their last few moments making the wrong choices, losing sight of what really mattered and giving up.
“We would all like to thank many family and friends, who know who they are, for the incredible support they have shown us and continue to show us through an immensely difficult time.
“We all love her so very much.”