Homeless woman found dead on Westward Ho! beach had been living a "double life"
AN unemployed homeless woman found dead on Westward Ho! beach had been living a “double life”, an inquest heard.
Donna May Martin, 31, was found deceased on the beach by a dog walker on January 12 this year.
Miss Martin, of no fixed abode, had not informed her parents she had lost her job as a care worker and had been sleeping rough in her red Vauxhall Corsa.
At the inquest, held at North Devon Magistrates’ Court in Barnstaple on October 16, coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland confirmed Miss Martin had drowned but said she was not satisfied with how she came to be in the water.
Miss Martin moved from her birth town in Kent to Westward Ho! in 2006 and started working at Ark Care Agency. She moved temporarily to a chalet in Rossyln before relocating to a rented apartment in Ridgeway Close.
Her parents also moved to the town in July 2012 after becoming concerned her daughter was falling behind with rent payments and not taking care of herself.
However, despite help from her father to pay her debts, the coroner told how she had been living a “double life” by telling her parents she still worked as a care worker and lived in Ridgeway.
The inquest heard how Miss Martin lost her job in March 2012 and moved out of her apartment in August to “save money to move to London”. She spent the final few months of her life living from her car, which was found parked in Bath Hotel Road with bedding, clothes and personal items inside.
Detective Sergeant Adam Bond, from Barnstaple CID, took to the witness stand at the inquest to read a police report which suggested Miss Martin had either taken her own life by walking into the water or had suffered a medical episode and collapsed while walking on the sand, before being washed out to sea by the tide.
Coroner Dr Earland, who returned an open verdict, said she had no health problems and was not intoxicated at the time of her death, but said the post mortem did not rule out the possibility of epilepsy.
She concluded: “We will never know what was in Donna’s mind but it’s clear she was living a double life from her family.
“We do know she was homeless and sleeping in her car when sometime between January 9 and January 12 she went to the beach and died in the sea. However, what we do not know is how she came to be in the water.”