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Coroner criticises failures in care of tragic mum

Charlotte Bevan and her four day old baby died in a fall at Avon Gorge in December 2014 Credit: Family

A coroner has criticised a series of failures by health officials at the inquest of Charlotte Bevan, who fell to her death with her 4-day-old daughter Zaani in Bristol's Avon Gorge last December.

Maria Voisin said there were missed opportunities to properly care for a woman with a history of mental health problems.

Charlotte Bevan walked out of St Michael's Hospital wearing hospital slippers and carrying her baby daughter wrapped in a blanket on 2 December 2014.

By the time medical staff contacted police, she was already by the Clifton suspension Bridge. Their bodies were found in Avon Gorge the next day.

Speaking outside the hearing, Charlotte Bevan's mother called for a special ward to be set up for pregnant mothers with mental health problems.

This has been a very difficult time for everybody

We would urge commissioners to fund a dedicated perinatal mental health unit.

– Rachel Fortune, Charlotte Bevan's mother

Matthew and Hoare's home 'full of stuff' during police visit

A police officer who conducted the first visit to Matthews and Hoare's home has described the state of the house on 24 February.

The court heard that the house was "full of stuff", and that the blind was down. Police could get into the kitchen, but only just - due to the amount of clutter in the hallway.

DC Lisa Aruthan says that upstairs there was furniture and other items on the landing, and the main bedroom was also full.

She added that there was very little interaction between herself and Hoare, but that Matthews was helpful and talkative.


Matthews was 'very helpful' to police during visit to their home

A police officer who attended Matthews and Hoare's home on 24 February has told the court that Matthews looked "tired and pale" when he answered the door.

The visit came a day after the couple were interviewed by police outside the home of Hoare's mother.

The witness - DC Lisa Aruthan - told the court how Matthews showed them round the house, introducing them to Hoare.

He was "very welcoming", and apologising for the state of the property, which was very cluttered.

Speaking about the bedroom, which was full of clutter, the witness told court "it became quite clear we would not be able to conduct a thorough search" in the circumstances.

Matthews confirmed to the witness that on 19 February he went to Becky's home - arriving between 11am and noon. He said he let himself in and didn't see Becky, but heard music from upstairs and assumed it was her. He told police that he and Hoare stayed downstairs, but heard the front door slam and thought Becky had left.

The court heard that Matthews assisted DC Aruthan with the property search, and was "very helpful, making small talk".

Ireland and Karl Demetrius said that "they could go on a nice holiday" with money from moving job

A colleague of James Ireland and Karl Demetrius has given evidence in court.

Nathan Bignell - a trainee parts inspector working for a company contracted to Airbus UK, in Filton. He told the court we was aware the two of them were close friends.

He told the court he thought Ireland drove a light blue Fiesta, and had seen the car outside their place of work.

The witness told how the police took a statement from him on 6 March this year.

He recounted how in February he heard Karl Demetrius take a phone call at work which lasted 5 or 10 minutes. James Ireland was sat nearby and the court heard that Karl Demetrius spoke to him. Mr Bignell said he could hear parts of the conversation.

"He was talking about a job he'd just got...collecting or delivering something and they would get paid quite well for doing it" - the court heard. When asked, the witness said he was not positive who was on the phone, but he heard Karl Demetrius' brother's name mentioned.

"Jamie was very interested" - Bignell told the court. He also said he'd joked with the pair about what goods they would be taking, asking if it was "weed". He said the pair ignored him.

The court also heard that the witnessed advised them "If you're doing something dodgy, I wouldn't use the work van" as it was not worth getting in trouble over. The witness said that the pair then moved away from him, and he did not hear anymore. He said he saw that Ireland's car had left.

Bignell told the court that he saw the pair again a few hours later, and they seemed "very happy" and in good spirits. They both made comments that they could go on a nice holiday with the money earned from this job.

On the Monday, the witness said the pair seemed "secretive" and were quiet - this was unusual as they were normally very outgoing.

The next day, the court heard that police officers arrived at their place of work.

Defence questioning

The defence asked the witness about the duties of Ireland's job, pointing out that he would often use one of three work vehicles that were available. These were only supposed to be used for work purposes, the court heard, and should be signed out. The lawyer suggested that a lack of supervisors might have led Ireland to "take liberties" at work, looking at his phone, computer and watching television while at work.

The lawyer asked if the witness was aware that Ireland was "regularly using the work van for his own use", going to the shops and taking someone to an appointment.

The witness said that on occasion Ireland had asked him for some help - making it clear that he had difficulty with reading and writing and needed help using the internet. He also told the court he had some difficulty with his speech. The defence asked if he knew that these difficulties were in part caused by his suffering from ADHD or autism.

Hoare's mother joked that pair had 'kidnapped' Becky

The mother of Shauna Hoare has told the court that her daughter began to date Nathan Matthews when she was around 14 or 15 years old.

Lisa Donovan said she did not see her daughter for a number of years after she moved in with Matthews at about aged 17, and made unsuccessful attempts to contact her.

The prosecution then asked about the events from 23 February, where Hoare rang and asked to visit her mother and stepfather.

  • The first visit

On the first visit by Matthews and Hoare on 23 February, the witness said she asked the couple why they had decided to get back in contact after years of estrangement. Hoare didn't reply, and Matthews allegedly answered "because Shauna wanted to".

On this first visit, Matthews told the witness that their car was acting up and a friend would pick them up. She told the jury she did not see them being picked up.

  • The second visit

Lisa Donovan told the court she did not see the couple arrive, and does not know how they got to their home on this second visit on February 24.

She said the pair stayed quite late.

  • The third visit

The witness told the court she thought the next visit was on the next day. She said "Shauna wasn't what I was expecting...she seemed quite down".

When asked about her impression of Matthews, she replied "He was very controlling, and she would just shut up and get on with it"

The prosecution asked if she saw any problems between the couple on these visits, and she answered "No".

  • The fourth visit

The witness said the couple did not give any reason for why they were staying so late on these visits, but she thought it was "unusual".

She worried that the couple might owe money. She asked them if they were in trouble, and they both asked "Why?"

Ms Donovan also said that she "joked" with her daughter about Becky, saying "I know why you're at my house all the time, it's cos you kidnapped her." To which Hoare allegedly just answered "No".

The witness then alleges that Hoare then asked her how she knew about Becky going missing.


Mrs Donovan told the court that both Hoare and Matthews left during visits to their house. Hoare left for about an hour, saying she had a job interview. Matthews would take phone calls, and then "lean over and whisper to [Hoare]".


Mrs Donovan told the court she has had no contact with her daughter since her arrest.

Defence questioning

The Defence lawyer for Matthews pointed out the "slightly unusual" age difference between Hoare and Matthews when they first got together.

Mrs Donovan told the court her daughter "doted" on Matthews, and she thought that he was "controlling on her" and that "she did whatever he wanted". When she saw the pair again in February this year she described Matthews as "flirty" with everyone, and said that he was very overpowering to Hoare.

But Adam Vaitilingham, QC pointed out that these do not appear in the witness statement that Mrs Donovan first gave to the police. He questioned whether the witness was trying to make things a bit better for Hoare.

Defence questioning

The defence lawyer for Hoare asked the witness about Matthews' behavior in his relationship with Hoare. The court heard that when Hoare wanted something Matthews would joke that she would have to do something sexual for him.

Mrs Donovan was also asked about the row which led to Hoare and her mother not speaking for several years before February of this year. The court heard that Matthews told Hoare's mother that "Shauna will never speak to you again" and that Hoare was not there for this exchange.

The court heard that Matthews told the witness that the reconciliation on 23 February "was Shauna's idea".

Hoare's stepfather "shocked" to hear from her after four years of no contact

The stepfather of Shauna Hoare has told the court that it had "been quite a while" since he had seen his stepdaughter when she rang to arrange to meet on 23 February.

Kevin Stone said "I was shocked," when questioned about the call, as neither he nor his wife had had any contact with Hoare for a number of years. He could not recall Hoare's exact age to the court when asked.

I was shocked

– Kevin Stone, Hoare's stepfather

The court heard that Stone provided Hoare with their address in Southmead, as she had never been to their current home.

After a gap of more than an hour, records show another phone call was made - lawyers suggest that this second phone call was from Matthews. The witness recounted how Matthews asked him to say they were all going out for a meal if anybody asked.

Mr Stone told the court about 30 minutes elapsed between the phone call and Hoare's arrival. Hoare rang once more to confirm the house number.

When asked about the visit, he said the couple seemed "alright".

Neither of them gave a reason for coming around on that day, and the witness told the court that they stayed "quite a while" - staying until 11pm or midnight.

The couple then left together - telling the witness they would come up again soon, possibly the next day.

The jury heard that Hoare and Matthews visited three times in quick succession over the next week, always leaving quite late.During these visits, the witness said Matthews Hoare both went out seperately - saying they had job interviews. Matthews was not gone very long, the court heard.

A fourth visit followed. The witness told the court that the couple stayed the night - he thinks on the Friday night. The following day, Mr Stone told how the police came to his door, where they arrested Hoare and Matthews.

The prosecution asked the witness if he had known about Becky Watts going missing. He said he had, but that he personally did not hear Matthews or Hoare speak about Becky.

Defence questioning

The defence pointed out that not all of the witness and his partner's children lived with the couple.

The witness was also questioned about a time in the past when Hoare was about 15 years old - and started seeing Matthews, who was then aged 22. The pair moved in together but neither Hoare's mother or stepfather visited the couple at their new address.

However, the court heard that Matthews would drive Hoare's mother - who has a disability - from place to place. An argument over this arrangement led to several years of estrangement, with - the prosecution said - "neither you nor Lisa [his wife] having any contact at all with Shauna or Nathan".

From that time, the witness did not see Hoare or Matthews for about four years.

When contact was re-established the couple were acting "normally". In court Mr Stone said he found Matthews "controlling" - telling Hoare not to smoke. He also noted that Hoare would "clam up" when Matthews joined conversations between himself and Hoare.


Bristol City secure Norwich City winger on loan

26 year-old Elliott Bennett will boost City's attacking options Credit: Adam Davy / PA

Bristol City have completed the loan signing of Norwich City wide man Elliott Bennett.

The 26 year-old will arrive on loan until January - bolstering City's attacking options.

Bennett's career took off when he led Brighton & Hove Albion to win League One in 2010/11. He's since moved to the Premier League when he joined Norwich City.

He'l join the squad at Ashton Gate for next Friday's math against Nottingham Forest.

Shaun the Sheep auction raises over £1 million

Globetrotter was sold for the most money at £28,000 Credit: Shaun in the City

120 Shaun in the City sculptures from the streets of Bristol and London raised more than a million pounds for charity at auction last night.

The sculpture which went for the most money was Globetrotter which sold for £28,000. The money will help sick children at Bristol Children's Hospital and across the country.

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