Worksop: Tributes paid to Sharon Burgin who died at Creswell Crags as coroner returns open verdict
Sharon Burgin’s body was found by her ex-husband Peter at the Derbyshire tourist spot on the evening of Tuesday 28th August 2012.
This week coroner Sophie Cartwright returned an open verdict at the inquest into the death of the 54-year-old at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court on 6th January.
In her summary, Miss Cartwright said drowning, alcohol, diazepam and hypothermia were all factors which potentially contributed to her death.
She said she could not be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mrs Burgin, of Cavendish Road, either took her own life or died accidently.
“I still miss her now and think about her a lot,” Mr Burgin told the Guardian.
“When we separated it broke my heart and I always wanted her back.”
“She was a caring, generous and kind person. She volunteered at Barnado’s in Worksop for about a year. Before that she worked at Palais Bingo.”
The inquest into the unemployed mother first opened on 4th September 2014. First accounts of evidence were then given three months later on 1st December, before the hearing was adjourned by the coroner for further witnesses to be called.
“I appreciate this inquest has left many questions unanswered, particularly for the blood family,” Miss Cartwright said.
“I am unable to come to a conclusion as to why she came to be in the river at Creswell Crags. There was no third party involvement.”
In the previous hearing in December, the court heard how Mrs Burgin had suffered with ‘severe’ alcohol problems and had expressed suicidal thoughts on numerous occasions.
Earlier this week, Dr Inch was the first to give evidence.
She explained how Mrs Burgin had told her she was in a relationship with a married man, which lead to her divorce from Mr Burgin and that she had been binge drinking.
She went on to say how Mrs Burgin missed several appointments.
Questions of Dr Inch were asked by Mrs Burgin’s brother, Craig Cotterill, who wanted to know why his sister was not sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
“If my sister had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act she would still be alive today,” Mr Cotterill said. “That is what we believe as a family.”
Dr Inch said that Mrs Burgin did not meet the criteria to be sectioned.
“The main problem was the alcohol. But we can’t section someone because of alcohol,” Dr Inch said.
Mr Cotterill also questioned why his sister was continuously prescribed with diazepam.
“We heard last time how she was given 56 tablets here, 56 tablets there.”
“She told them that she had left them somewhere and it was ‘oh let’s give her some more’.”
Mrs Burgin’s former husband, Peter, a retired Worksop police officer, told the court that he had driven Mrs Burgin to Creswell Crags at around 4pm on the evening of 27th August 2012.
He said that Mrs Burgin had got up about 5.30am and drank about three cans of lager. Later that day she asked him to take her to Creswell because she wanted to find a place to live and that she would stay with a friend.
It was said that Mr Burgin gave her an ultimatum to either give up drinking or that she would have to move out.
“She wanted me to turn in to Creswell Crags to have an hour to clear her head and to decide what she wanted to do.”
“I said ‘oh no you don’t want to go there’ but she was adamant.”
“She said ‘if you don’t take me then I will walk’.”
“She had half a bottle of vodka on her. I don’t know what she had in terms of medication.”
The court heard that Mr Burgin had sent Mrs Burgin a text message the next day asking if she was okay and said that he had been trying to ring her.
“It was unusual because we usually would have heard from her by now when she went missing,” he said. “Either she would ring or the police would be in touch.“
“I parked my car in the visitor’s entrance. I came across some trampled down grass. I then saw her clothes scattered, and then that’s when I found her body in the stream.”
The final account was given by Detective Constable Heidi Kubon, of Derbyshire Police, who read through a list of recent incidents where officers had been involved with Mrs Burgin. DC Kubon told the court that Mrs Burgin had told police she had taken an overdose - just seven days before her death.
The coroner offered her deepest sympathies to all family members and said: “If she had been able to overcome her alcohol abuse then she may have been here today.”