Churchyard time capsule mystery over cliff suicide

MYSTERY surrounds the death of a Burwash man whose car plunged 200ft off cliffs, after his family failed to find a ‘time capsule’ - buried in a churchyard - which held clues to his decision, an inquest heard.

Mark Samworth, 45, from Heathfield Road, Burwash, was discovered dead inside his car by emergency crews at the foot of Telscombe Cliffs near Badgers Watch, on January 19 2011.

The inquest heard Mark had driven around in his mum’s Ford Mondeo looking for the ‘perfect place’ to drive the car off the cliffs.

He was killed instantly after sustaining fatal injuries to his skull, lungs, heart, pelvis and sternum.

He spoke to his friend Paul St John Russ as he was driving and it was during this conversation that he told of the time capsule which he said would explain his drastic actions.

Mark’s family desperately searched for the capsule in the Rotherfield churchyard, which backs on to the house Mark grew up in, but never found it.

Sussex Police officers reported how they had found a note from Mark etched on a newspaper clipping, wrapped in a £20 note, inside the car.

It read ‘secrets’ with a smiley face and ‘PTO’ on one side, while the other side said: “It wasn’t bad driving, I meant to do it. I love you all.”

Mark’s mum Pamela Goodwin said he had been ‘distraught’ and ‘fidgety’ during the days before he died, and had kept saying the word ‘secrets’ without explanation.

She said he had lapsed into depression after the break up of his relationship. He seemed to be getting back on track after receiving a job offer from a company in Thailand but it fell through which she said was ‘the last straw.’

The inquest heard Mark had battled with his mental health and overdosed several times.

He was assessed by mental health ‘crisis’ teams which said he was not at risk of suicide, and did not need to be detained for his safety.

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His GP wrote a letter of referral to a consultant psychologist but it never reached its destination and he never got an appointment, the inquest heard.

Mrs Goodwin described how she desperately tried to get Mark help after feeling there was ‘nowhere to go.’

She said: “I went to the Priory in Ticehurst. I walked around and it was shut.

“I banged on the doors until someone let me in.

“I spoke to a doctor who said they could not treat him unless he had been referred.

“I said Mark needs help now. It didn’t seem there was anywhere we could go to get him help.”

Mark had been scheduled to attend a meeting with mental health team, Health in Mind, but declined.

He went along to his appointment with his GP the morning before his death, but walked out without being seen.

A post mortem found Mark had died of injuries consistent with driving 200-250ft off cliffs.

He was several times over the drink drive limit, the inquest heard.

Mrs Goodwin said: “It is a complete mystery. We do not know what that box contained, but it must have contained something that meant something to him.”

Coroner Kate Palmer said she was satisfied Mark had intended to take his own life, and said the catalyst was his struggle to come to terms with the breakdown of his relationship.

She said: “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he did intend to kill himself as a result of his actions.

“I am sure he left a mark with everybody, and that everybody will miss him.”