An aspiring actress may have been taking a “selfie” when she plummeted 13 floors to her death from a luxury tower block after downing drink and drugs, an inquest heard.
Bethany Beales, 22, was at a pal’s pad after a night on the town when she fell from the 19th floor of the Heron in Moorgate, central London, where a studio flat sells for more than £650,000.
Known to friends and family as Beth, she was found “barely breathing” on a sixth-floor terrace of the building complex with injuries “consistent with a fall from a height”.
Beth – described as a “party animal” by pals – had been out clubbing in the hours before her death last May, City of London Coroner’s Court heard.
A man and woman were initially arrested on suspicion of her murder, but detectives couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that they were involved in her death.
Recording an open conclusion, Senior Coroner Alison Hewitt said Beth may have been taking a “selfie” when she fell from the balcony.
Beth, a junior sales executive who lived in Wimbledon, south west London, had graduated in English literature and performance from Roehampton University.
She was a recreational user of cocaine and had been taking it the hours before her death, the hearing was told.
Beth’s friend Hannah Curtis, who attended the inquest, said: “She used cocaine from time to time.
“More recently she used it at the weekends when she was drinking.
“She had an issue with it, but wasn’t addicted.”
A statement from Beth’s friend, India Boyd, who was out with her that night, was read to the hearing.
She said: “I met Beth at a private members’ club in Soho.
“It was a mansion-type house and we were sitting on a sofa, talking and drinking.
“It was daylight when we left.”
She said Beth took some cocaine when they went back to the apartment of a man known as Jessie who Beth had been seeing.
Ms Boyd said: “Beth was talking to me about Jessie, she didn’t know what he was looking for relationship-wise.
“At 7.30am, Beth and Jessie went to the bedroom and at around 10am or 11am I could hear them talking. Beth was talking sternly.
“She came out and said Jessie had made her angry and asked could I go to the bathroom with her.
“She seemed upset.”
The inquest heard that when Ms Boyd woke up at noon, Beth had left the apartment.
Beth had been texting her friend Okechukwa Ngaha, known as Marvin, and asked to visit his apartment in the Heron to talk, the inquest heard.
Mr Ngaha told the inquest: “Beth messaged me between 11am and 11.30am.
“She told me she was upset, she had tears in her eyes and can she come around.”
He told the inquest he initially asked if Beth was okay to go home because he was “shattered.”
But when he heard that she was upset he said he would wait with his friend Carol Boulter, who was the only other person at the apartment.
Beth was seen on CCTV entering the apartment building at 12.43pm.
Mr Ngaha said: “She’s usually bubbly and lively, but she was blank. She dropped her bag down and we talked for about 12 to 15 minutes.
“She told us she decided to tell Jessie something she hadn’t told anyone. It was traumatising for her. His reaction was not what she expected.
“She thought it was going really well with Jessie, she was just feeling defeated.
“After about 15 minutes she said her mum had rang and she was going to make or take a call.
“She went out to the balcony and closed the door. The curtains were closed so we couldn’t see out.
“We thought she might have been calling Jessie so we just left her to it. After a while we went to check on her and she had disappeared.
“But there are two entrances to the balcony and my bedroom door was open. I thought she had gone in there, so we had a cigarette.”
The inquest heard that when Mr Ngaha and Ms Boulter went to check on Beth, they couldn’t find her.
He said they thought she’d left without telling them.
After searching for her and ringing her phone, they decided to leave her shoes and bag downstairs.
Ms Boulter, who said she thought it was “strange” Beth had left her shoes, left her belongings with the concierge before leaving.
She texted Mr Ngaha that there may have been a fire in the building after seeing the fire brigade. The police arrived at his apartment shortly afterward.
Although Ms Boulter and Mr Ngaha were questioned by police, no evidence was found that they were involved in Beth’s death.
Beth’s mother, Michelle Beales-Shaw said the last time she saw her daughter around a month before her death she seemed “very happy”.
Mrs Beales-Shaw said: “She was absolutely fine. She loved coming home and being looked after.
“We has just redecorated her room and she had picked the wallpaper. It was a very nice weekend and she seemed very happy.
“Everything was going well for her and she was looking forward to her holiday in Ibiza. She had everything to look forward to.”
Mrs Beales-Shaw added: “Beth was kind, funny, loyal, intelligent, just a very beautiful person.
“She was our world.
“My final tribute to her is to say that some of those she chose to hang about with led to her not making the right decisions.
“I can only judge that by their actions in not talking to us or the police. I don’t believe they can give you a true opinion of my daughter.
“In my opinion, I don’t feel my daughter committed suicide. I believe if she was going commit suicide she would have said goodbye to me and she didn’t.”
Det Chief inspector Edelle Michaels, the senior investigating officer, told the hearing: “We couldn’t find any evidence that would suggest that Marvin Ngaha or Carol Boulter we’re involved in her death.
“The messages that Marvin said he sent to Beth were concurrent with what we found on her phone. There are no inconsistencies.
“We couldn’t find any evidence to suggest there was any force used in her death.”
The Coroner asked if DCI Michaels would agree the balcony was too high to fall over by accident.
DCI Michaels agreed, but added: “Apart from the chair being close to the balcony.
“She may have used it to stand up on.
“She may have used it so she could sit up on the railing.
“Her phone was found very near her, so she probably had it in her hand. Maybe she was going to take a photo and fell.
“She was very close to her mother and as she said she would have contacted her if she was going to do that.”
The inquest heard that Beth had attempted to take her own life in 2015 over the breakdown of a relationship, but told her mother she “immediately regretted it”.
The inquest heard she had no previous mental health issues and seemed very “upbeat” in the lead up to her death.
A pathologist found that Beth died from multiple injuries “consistent with a fall from a height”.
Ms Hewitt said: “Toxicological testing found a blood alcohol concentration of 147mg per 100ml.
“It found some presence of cocaine – within the wide range of values seen after use of a typical recreational dose.
“With regard to the alcohol and drugs she said it was possible they contributed to her fall.”
Recording an open conclusion, the Coroner said: “I am satisfied there is no evidence of third party involvement.
“I have to deduce whether it was a suicide.
“The definition of it is if someone had died from their own deliberate act and, in doing that act, they deliberately intended to kill themselves.
“This was a high barrier, it doesn’t seem to me you could fall over it. From the evidence, Beth has put herself in the barrier by using a chair up against it.
“It’s possible that was in order to climb over to deliberately fall.
“But it seems to me it’s also possible that she used to the chair to sit up on the barrier.
“This could have been down to lack of judgement after taking alcohol and drugs, she lifted up her phone to take a selfie possibly.
“Is one of them more likely than the other? I don’t think so.
“There was another time with an overdose, but it seems to be that that was not a suicide attempt.
“She had a very good support network.
“It’s possible she was trying to take her own life but it is equally possible it was an accident so I can’t record suicide.”
The Coroner ruled it an “open conclusion” as she said there was not the “requisite standard of proof” to record a precise verdict.
By Grainne Cuffe