Woman, 56, froze to death in Hull cemetery after falling off her bike and spending 17 hours alone

A woman who froze to death after falling from her bike in a Hull cemetery and spent 17 hours in freezing cold temperatures, could have been saved had she been found sooner, an inquest has heard.

Jacqueline Parsons, 56, injured her leg as fell while cycling through Western Cemetery in the city in October 2018.

Police were dispatched to try and find her, but after 17 hours in temperatures that dropped below 35F, Jacqueline was only discovered by a passing dog walker.

Jacqueline Parsons, 56, spent 17 hours in freezing temperatures after falling from her bike at a cemetery in Hull. She was eventually found by a dogwalker, but later died of hypothermia

The freezing temperatures, combined with alcohol in her system – which was at 93mg per 100ml of blood – only just over the legal drink driving limit of 80mg per 100ml, and the injury to her ankle, were deemed as the cause of death by Dr Kirsten Hope.

The pathologist also testified that if Miss Parsons had been found in time after the alarm was raised, her temperature could have been raised and she could have been saved.

Miss Parson’s fiance, Malcolm Cuthbert, told how Miss Parsons had gone out cycling on her bike on the Saturday at around 9am for a ‘keep fit’ bike ride, and how he had become concerned after she had not come home later in the afternoon.

‘I tidied the home, ironed and wondered where she was and became angry that she was not home as we normally did things on an afternoon together,’ he said.

An inquest is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding Miss Parson's death

An inquest is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding Miss Parson’s death

‘The later it got, the more I thought she was out on a drinking session [because she had been known to go out drinking before] and I presumed that she was drunk somewhere.

‘I went out in my car for a drive along Spring Bank West [near where the couple lived] to find her and looked out for her bike along where we would go out in Princes Avenue and parked up in the car park of the Queen’s pub to look for her cycle, but I could not see it.

‘It was raining heavily and I was worried. I expected her to return the next day and left the door open [as she had no key] and slept on the sofa.

‘On Sunday morning I expected her to return and was tired of waiting, but then saw on Hull Live that a female in her 50s had been found in the cemetery and had a gut feeling it was her.

‘I phoned the police and they arrived later to tell me she was dead and I just broke down.’

Mr Cuthbert then testified in court that he had conducted extensive research over the last two years since his partner’s death and believed that the police were to blame for not finding her.

‘It was the coldest day of the year when she went missing and the police search was at twilight, when they would have still been able to see her,’ he said.

‘Had a full search taken place by police, then she would have been found.

‘My conclusion after two years of visiting the scene, knowing Jacquie and doing my own research leads very clearly to the fact that Jacquie was let down, as had she been found soon enough, she would still be here today.’

In his evidence, Mr Cuthbert also added that he did not ring the police himself to raise the alarm when she did not come home, as she had gone out before and not come back, but said: ‘In hindsight, I made mistakes and could have done more, but I was acting in the context of the relationship.’

The witness, age 63, who found Miss Parsons in the cemetery heard her calling out for help and saw her on the floor with her bike propped up against a tree.

He says he tried to lift her but she was unable to stand as she had injured her ankle.

After being unable to help Jacquie, the man went back home to ring the police as he left his phone at home, and told them of how urgent the situation was.

‘I heard a female saying ‘can you help me please?’ and then saw a female sat on the grass with a bike propped up on the tree near her.

Tributes were left to the keen cyclist and dog lover where she died, but her partner believes are to blame for her death after failing to find her

Tributes were left to the keen cyclist and dog lover where she died, but her partner believes are to blame for her death after failing to find her

‘I walked over and said ‘are you alright?’ and tried to lift her, but I smelt alcohol on her and she was disorientated and couldn’t get up and she said ‘my leg, my leg’ and that she was in pain.

‘I tried to get her to her feet, but failed.’ 

The dog walker said that he left Jacquie to go see if he could find police officers in the area as there had been a match on at the KCOM stadium, but failed to locate an officer.

He then called police back at home 15 minutes after finding Miss Parsons and said that it was urgent officers attended soon as the cemetery gates would soon be locked.

When the call was made, the witness said that his view of Jacquie was unobstructed and that it was still light.

The court also heard that Miss Parsons and her partner met in 1987 and broke up in 1992, but then got back together in touch in 2001 and stayed together until Miss Parsons’ death. 

The couple never had any children but Miss Parsons, who was born in Richmond, Surrey, before moving to Hull with her family aged nine, adored her two chihuahuas who she referred to as ‘her babies’.

Miss Parson’s sister also gave evidence that she loved her dearly and that the pair had a holiday booked that they were both looking forward to and were due to fly out just days after she died.

The inquest continues on Thursday, October 15.

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