Drunk stewardess broke her spine in fall on £6m yacht celebrating England World Cup win

Rebecca Boyle, from Burghclere, Hants, was found lifeless by another crew member the morning after England secured a World Cup win over Colombia last July.

A coroner today heard how the 32-year-old's head was twisted in an "unnatural position" and had suffered catastrophic injuries in the cabin where she slept alone.

Ms Boyle had just started work in Italy as the only stewardess on the 150ft super-yacht when the tragic accident happened in July last year.

She had arrived on the La Polonia just a a few days before her death, but friends said she had been enjoying the high-life and drinking a lot.

The captain of La Polonia, which costs £150,000 a week to charter, said he had warned Ms Boyle about reining in her heavy drinking after seeing her with red eyes and clearly hungover.

On July 3 – the night of England's dramatic World Cup victory over Colombia – Ms Boyle was seen drinking straight vodka with a friend on the quayside in the port of Imperia before she was escorted to the yacht by concerned friends.

It was only the next day that Ms Boyle was found lifeless in her cabin.


The main cause of her death, Italian authorities from the criminal investigation department had submitted to the Coroner's office in Reading, Berks, was a serious traumatic injury and fracture of the spine, the inquest heard today.

Heidi Connor, Senior Coroner for Berkshire, said: "This is a particularly sad and tragic death.

"At around 7.10am on July 4, emergency services reported the presence of a dead body on board La Polonia. A member of the crew said someone fell ill on board.

"Once on board the leisure vessel, a female body was found lying on the ground, belly downwards, wearing a swimsuit.

"The 118 personnel immediately confirmed her dead. Probable cause of death was circulatory cardiac arrest from a probable fall."


In an interview, the engineer on board La Polonia reported that in the early hours of July 4 crew heard the slamming of doors and a loud thud.

"The crew reported staying in their rooms, except for the chief engineer who heard insistent ringing, an alarm from a mobile phone in Rebecca's cabin.

The coroner heard that he entered her room and discovered the lifeless body of Rebecca.

Speaking of the night before, he said: "In my opinion she probably was drunk. Her eyes kept closing, she had difficulty speaking. She had red eyes following a binge."

The captain of La Polonia told the inquest in a statement he had previously warned Ms Boyle not to binge drink again after he had discovered she had a hangover.


Jonty Brits, a deckhand on board the Dynamic, moored alongside Ms Boyle's boat, was the last person to see her alive and said he had been into Le Grotte bar on shore with crew members to watch the soccer match and had returned to find Rebecca and a friend drinking vodka.

Mr Brits had invited them aboard his yacht and they had gone to the upper outside deck and spent time in the jacuzzi before he had accompanied Rebecca back to her room on La Polonia because she was drunk.

He told the inquest: "We were going to watch the match at around 6pm with the captain and the cook. Rebecca and a colleague were drinking on the quay.

"Rebecca said she would come with us at around 9pm but she never came.

"We arrived back on board after the match at 11pm. Rebecca was still drinking on the quay and was clearly drunk.

"I asked my captain for permission to bring the two people on board our vessel and we went in the jacuzzi.

"Rebecca was very drunk, so I decided to accompany her back to her boat. I accompanied Rebecca and watched her go on board."


A post mortem examination on her body found Rebecca was in a state of "psycho-physical alteration" at the time of incident.

A report showed her room had steep steps in it which divided the room into two levels.

Her body was found in an unnatural position in contact with a piece of furniture.

The position of her arm suggested she had been unable to stop the blow to her body and the report concluded: "It is likely that the young woman's reflexes were altered."

Rebecca's father, Michael Boyle, from Burghclere, Hants, said: "We were informed by the Italian authorities that Rebecca fell on a flight of four or five steps in her cabin and broke her neck.

"Her mother and I both spoke to her on July 2 and she seemed upbeat, enjoying her new job. We had no reason to expect what was shortly to occur."

Rebecca's mother Laura Boyle, aged 57 years, is a well-known psychic.

Mrs Connor passed her condolences to both parents and said: "I record my sincere condolences for the tragic loss of such a young, beautiful woman."


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