The parents of a woman who died in Ibiza have been told there was no “foul play” after they spent £70,000 investigating her death.
In October 2007 Rachel Turner fell around 17ft from a balcony in San Antonio on the island and died.
The 22-year-old’s family have long believed that the Birmingham City University student would not have taken her own life, Birmingham Mail reported.
After going public with their concerns, Rachel’s parents launched their own investigation into her death, at a reported cost of £70,000.
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On Monday an inquest at Birmingham Coroner’s Court heard nothing to raise suspicion about her death, although there was also no evidence to suggest suicide.
Broken fingernails and bruising to her fingertips on her left hand were instead “consistent with her trying to grab onto masonry whist falling” to try and save herself, the hearing was told.
The only witness to the fall was ex-security guard Michael Tollerfield, who had been seeing Rachel for five to six weeks on the island, although the pair were not in a relationship.
His witness testimony varied in three different police statements – but it was “not possible to decide which of those versions was accurate,” the inquest was told.
Shortly following her death her heartbroken parents Leslie and Jane and her younger sister Sarah-Louise described her as a loving daughter and sister who was “loved by everybody who knew her.”
Louise Hunt, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said “inconsistencies” in the case were likely to be explained by “intoxication and the passage of time”.
She said there was no evidence that Rachel’s death was as a result of “foul play”.
“The family have grave concerns that Rachel’s death was as a result of third party involvement,” Mrs Hunt said.
“I turn to the investigation that has been undertaken and I understand the family are not satisfied by the level of those investigations, but those are what has been provided to this inquest.
“The Spanish investigation has not identified any evidence of foul play and has not proceeded with any investigation.
“West Midlands Police has undertaken investigations from as early as October 2007 and the initial investigation, based on some evidence provided, was looking at whether or not Rachel had taken her own life.
“I want to say I’m entirely satisfied there is no evidence to support that.
“The conclusion from all of that is that West Midlands Police has not been able to identify how she came to fall.
“They have confirmed there is no additional evidence that can be obtained after this passage of time. They have not identified any evidence of any third party involvement in Rachel’s death.”
Forensic pathologist Doctor David Rouse carried out an independent review of the case.
“To damage the fingertips is the sort of injury you would expect if you were to grab hold of a rough surface, such as a balcony or part of a wall,” he said.
“It implies there’s an attempt to save yourself from falling. It is very difficult to account for that sort of damage.”
Rachel, a former Edgbaston High School girl, was about to enter her third year studying fashion and design at university.
She was in Ibiza over the summer of 2007 and worked as a nightclub promoter.
“Rachel went out with friends in San Antonio to various bars,” Mrs Hunt said.
“From the evidence I’ve heard it is clear that all who were out drank a lot of alcohol that evening.”
She had tried unsuccessfully to pay for credit for her phone and headed back to her apartment with a pal in the early hours of October 1.
Rachel later went back out again to buy vodka from a convenience shop, at which point she was with Mr Tollerfield.
She then attempted to visit a rooftop terrace, which had a pool and sun loungers, but the door was locked so she headed down the stairs.
Mrs Hunt went on: “Michael caught up with her on the first or second floor landing. She was sitting on a wide ledge on one of the balcony landings.
“He spoke with her and recounted how she was upset about going home and finishing her degree.”
The inquest was told Mr Tollerfield gave three different witness statements between 2007 and 2018.
“The first statement given to the Spanish Police refers to Rachel having ‘hurled herself off over the ledge’,” Mrs Hunt said.
“The second statement he refers to her having her legs over the edge, pivoting around to talk to him and then falling.
“Then the Scottish interview (to Police Scotland) of her having her legs over the edge, pivoting to look at him and then falling.
“He accounts for the difference in his Spanish statement when interviewed that he wasn’t given the opportunity to properly understand it as it wasn’t read back to him.
“After Rachel had fallen from the ledge she landed on the ground below and Michael Tollerfield was the first to attend to her and give her first aid and an ambulance was called.
“She was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with a severe head injury despite surgery. Unfortunately they found she was brain damaged from that injury.
“She was flown home to be with her family and for a second opinion.”
Rachel suffered a “severe, unrevivable head injury, which sadly resulted in her death.”
Post-mortem examinations were undertaken at the time with the cause of death given as a head injury.
The coroner said the “number of inconsistencies” evident in the case was likely to be explained by “intoxication and the passage of time”.
She said the pathologist confirmed the “grabbing motion will change the trajectory of her fall” – but that the “pathology was unable to help how she fell.”
“I can conclude that Rachel had been on a night out with friends, including Michael Tollerfield, to various bars at the end of the season,” she said.
“I know that she and Michael Tollerfield were not together throughout the whole evening.
“Rachel had been drinking alcohol all night including close to the time of the incident. I do conclude she was likely to be intoxicated.
“Michael Tollerfield was the only witness to what happened when Rachel fell and his accounts vary from statements.
“Due to intoxication and the passage of time it is not possible to decide which of those statement versions is accurate.
“I can conclude Rachel fell from a ledge of a balcony. I do find there is no evidence a third party was involved in her death.
“The injuries to her fingers are consistent with grabbing to try to save herself, but that could have due to any mechanism of falling. There is no evidence she intended to take her life.
“I am satisfied that the only safe conclusion for this court to reach is a narrative conclusion.”
Mrs Hunt added: “She fell from a balcony onto the concrete floor below her where she sustained a serious head injury.
“She was taken to hospital in Ibiza where they confirmed a catastrophic head injury. She was repatriated to the Birmingham Priory Hospital where she passed away on October 7, 2007.
“My conclusion is she died as a result from a fall from a height while intoxicated.”
Addressing Rachel’s family, Mrs Hunt said: “I realise that is not the answer that you so badly wanted. I have to reach a conclusion based on evidence which is provided to this court.
“I would like to take this opportunity by offering my sincere condolences to you all. This has been an awful journey for you and I realise that it’s not over for you because every minute of every day you feel the pain and loss of Rachel.”