Worthing woman '˜greatly missed by her family', inquest hears

A woman whose body was found on a pavement near a Worthing car park will '˜always be in her family's hearts', an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 20th March 2018, 7:07 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:13 am

Elizabeth Cunningham, 43, from Hayling Rise, Worthing, was found unresponsive by a member of the public near the Guildbourne Centre car park on the morning of December 5, 2017.

Paramedics declared her dead at the scene and she was later found to have suffered ‘multiple injuries’, an inquest was told.

Recording a verdict at Crawley Coroner’s Court today (Tuesday, March 20), assistant coroner Dr David Skipp said: “To record a verdict of suicide the evidence has to be beyond reasonable doubt and I don’t have evidence of that.

“It may be that she was on the car park, stood near the edge and fell over, I don’t know I’m surmising.

“But I have to reach a conclusion and that is that she died as a result of an accidental death.”

The court heard that Mrs Cunningham and her family had taken hostage by armed soldiers while in the Arab country of Kuwait and the experience had affected her deeply.

Senior coroner’s officer Jemma Gaule said: “Elizabeth, known to her family as Liza, was very much a family person and was always very supportive of them.

“When Liza was 16 she was on a summer holiday in Kuwait...where a group of army militia armed with machine guns raided the house.

“The family were held as hostages and were taken to the Ahmadi Governorate building.”

She said: “It was a very tense time for the whole family and they were taken to different locations, and it was not until December that year the family were reunited.”

Mrs Gaule said, on another occasion Liza and her mother had come under attack from Iraqi soldiers while out to get food.

She said: “Her father believes it remained very much in her memory and may well explain her phobia of leaving the house.”

The court also heard how the death of her sister in 2004 from leukaemia, and then her mother in 2013 from illness ‘greatly affected her’.

She had worked as a cashier at the Royal Bank of Scotland but the pressure of having to sell PPI insurance caused her to become ‘worried’ and she resigned, the inquest heard.

“She became unsettled, her family believe this may well have been the beginning of her problems,” Mrs Gaule said.

She returned to Kuwait to work for a consultancy firm but temperatures of up to 120 degrees and long driving ‘did not suit Liza or the family and she resigned’.

The hearing was told that Mrs Cunningham had suffered from depression since 2008 and had been admitted to the psychiatric facility at Swandean Hospital.

She was ‘not the same’ when she was released after a three-week stay and became reluctant to leave the house, the inquest heard.

She loved art and the day before her death she had enjoyed making a Christmas acorn display which her father ‘believes showed her thoughts and mood was positive’, Mrs Gaule said.

After she had been found unconscious near the car park in High Street, Worthing, police and ambulance crews attended and her death was confirmed at 5.22am, the inquest heard.

Mrs Gaule said no suicide note was found and no one had seen her in the car park prior to her death.

Mrs Gaule added: “Liza was a loving aunty to her nephews and would help her sister with them and their daily routine.

“Liza is greatly missed by her family and will always be in their hearts and remembered.”