Balcony fall mother had felt threatened by husband before death, inquest hears — (The Telegraph)

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The Telegraph

3:10 PM BST 31 Aug 2012

Balcony fall mother had felt threatened by husband before death, inquest hears

Mathilde Lamb, who was known as Tilly, was killed when she tumbled from a window during a family holiday with her husband Roger and their children in the Moroccan resort of Essaouira on August 17 last year.

She had apparently being attempting to remonstrate with noisy revellers in the street when she leaned too far out of the window and lost her balance.

Her husband subsequently attempted suicide by jumping into the sea with a backpack full of rocks, but was pulled to safety by one of his children.

Just three days later, the grief-stricken structural engineer was found critically injured beneath a balcony at five star hotel where he had taken his children to get over the shock of his wife’s death.

An inquest at Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Lamb, who had been working in New Zealand away from his family, had suffered mental health problems and had been prescribed antidepressants.

Death fall mother’s ‘furious row’

But the hearing was also told how Mrs Lamb had told a family doctor that she had felt threatened by her husband on “more than one occasion”.

Dr Jill Perks told the hearing that Mrs Lamb had written down the details and requested that the letters be given to her sister Charlotte Sebag-Montefiore.

In a statement she explained: “If anything happened and Roger was responsible she wanted the letters to be given to her (Charlotte).”

However, Mrs Sebag-Montefiore said that while the couple had a “turbulent” marriage, Mr Lamb had never been violent towards his wife.

“Not at all, I think if he actually hit her she would have said,” she explained.

David Ridley, coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, was also told how Mr Lamb had shown signs of extreme stress in the run up to the holiday.

In a statement his sister Zara Bird said he had been reluctant to go on holiday, and only decided to travel on the day the family flew out, August 13.

“He expressed a horrible thought that Tilly had asked him to let her look after his passport,” she said in her statement.

“He thought she might sell his passport in Morocco and might leave him there. He asked if it was just in his mind or whether she would do something like that. We told him she wouldn’t and he could replace the passport in any case.”

Police Constable Craig Marshall, who saw the family leave from Bristol airport, said Mr Lamb had appeared distressed prior to the flight.

“He observed an adult male sat with his head in his hands. Mr Lamb appeared to be in some distress, “ the coroner explained.

The court also heard how Mr Lamb, who had been made redundant in 2010, had taken a job in New Zealand, but was having difficulty persuading his wife to join him.

According to friends Mrs Lamb said her husband had become “obsessed with Gypsy life and wanted the couple to start again as new age travellers.

But members of the family who flew out to Morocco, said after his suicide attempt he appeared to calm down and was more settled.

On the day of his hotel fall, the family had eaten breakfast together, before Mr Lamb said he was returning to his room to collect his swimming trunks.

However a short time later they heard a shout from a member of staff at the hotel and discovered that he had fallen around six meters from a first floor staircase.

Giving evidence, Mrs Sebag-Montefiore said: “I wonder if whether Roger actually was crying for help or whether he meant to do it, it really worries me because he was so happy.”

He was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to one in Marrakesh for specialist treatment, but died on August 22.

The coroner ruled a verdict of accidental death in the case of Mrs Lamb and concluded that her husband had taken his own life while suffering from depression.