Family of EasyJet cabin crew boss, 45, found dead at the bottom of the stairs fear death may not have been an accident
THE family of an EasyJet cabin crew boss found dead at the bottom of the stairs fear her death may not have been an accident.
Relatives of Lisa Spriggs told an inquest they did not believe the version of events given by her boyfriend Mark Ashley and accused police of "incompetence".
Miss Spriggs, a crew performance manager with the airline, died after suffering a head injury at her partner's home in Mancot, Deeside, on November 25, 2017.
But family solicitor John Hughes told the hearing in Ruthin, North Wales, that police had accepted too readily that it was a non-suspicious death.
Miss Spriggs, 45, who had one of the company's planes named after her following her death, was described by her aunt Gayle Spriggs as "generous and enjoyed a social life" and who could also "hold her drink".
Mrs Spriggs told the inquest: "We don't believe Mr Ashley's version of events of that evening."
John Gittins, senior coroner for North Wales East and Central, asked Mr Hughes: "Are you suggesting that there is some criminality in this?"
He replied: "Yes, the family is suggesting it. They do not believe a word Mr Ashley has said and that the police investigation is at best incompetent."
Miss Spriggs' boyfriend said he heard a noise and found her lying at the foot of the stairs shortly after they had returned home from the nearby White Bear pub in the early hours of the morning.
He dialled 999 and his brother Ian carried out CPR until paramedics arrived.
Miss Spriggs, who lived in West Derby, Liverpool, was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, where she died.
Consultant pathologist Dr Mared Owen-Casey gave the cause of death as a fractured skull and alcohol intoxication.
Miss Spriggs had 203 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and a therapeutic level of the anti-depressant Sertraline.
The drink-drive limit is 80 milligrammes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Dr Owen-Casey said the combination of drug and alcohol could cause dizziness and drowsiness.
We don't believe Mr Ashley's version of events of that evening.
The inquest heard that blood was found on door handles inside and outside the house in Maxwell Avenue – which later turned out to be Mr Ashley's.
But crime scene investigator Emma Roberts said she did not examine it, or bloody paper towels which were in a bin, because the brief she had been given – based on Mr Ashley's 999 call – was that it was a non-suspicious death.
Mr Hughes asked: "Do you not think the conclusion of a non-suspicious death was taken too early?"
She replied: "That is how it was reported and on that basis I attended."
Forensic scientist Margaret Boyce said the only scenario she was asked to consider by North Wales Police was Mr Ashley's explanation that he had cut himself on foil while screwing the top on a bottle of Prosecco.
She said that was possible, but added: "I had been asked to consider only one possible scenario but there could be other explanations."
CCTV footage was viewed of the couple at the bar of the White Bear, apparently having an argument.
Mr Ashley then started walking home 19 seconds ahead of Miss Spriggs.
Mr Hughes put it to him that he was angry because she wanted another drink while he wanted to go home.
Mr Ashley agreed that he had wanted to go, but added: "I wasn't dragging her out or shouting."
Det Sergeant Victoria Matthias, who led the investigation, said the CCTV footage showed that Miss Spriggs was clearly drunk and there was no reason to consider it a suspicious death.
Mr Hughes said there were question marks about the timing of the incident as the clock on the CCTV footage was wrong, and the fact that the only people interviewed initially were Mr Ashley, his brother and their mother, who was also in the house at the time.
"The only people interviewed were the possible perpetrators," he commented.
"Are you still happy with your investigation?" he asked. The officer replied: "Yes".
Suzanne Sergeant, a friend and easyJet colleague of Miss Spriggs, said the couple met online about a year previously but about 10 days before her death he accused her of being too possessive and said he wanted to spend more time with his friends.
Mr Hughes was given 14 days to submit his submissions before the coroner decides on his conclusion.
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