Mystery over how woman, 64, drowned in the sea

The area of Blackpool Promenade, near the Hilton Hotel, where Bernice Uttley's body was found.
The area of Blackpool Promenade, near the Hilton Hotel, where Bernice Uttley's body was found.
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A distraught woman has spoken of her shock after her partner was found dead on Blackpool beach.

A Coroner’s Court heard mystery still surrounds the death of Bernice Uttley, a healthy woman who had been out drinking with friends the night before she was found in a pool of water close to the sea.

Police were at a loss to explain how the “popular” 64-year-old, known to her friends as Bernie, ended up in the sea.

They know she got from her home in Cherry Tree Gardens, in Marton to the beach opposite the Hilton Hotel, on North Promenade before she was found by pedestrians at 7.30am on September 18.

Partner Elizabeth Hall told the hearing: “We were members of Blackpool Sports Centre – we were fell walkers and kept ourselves fit.

“The day before we had just come back from the Lakes, where we had walked 
Blencathra. She was in great spirits.”

The inquest heard the couple went to a friend’s birthday celebration on the evening of September 17, where they drank wine. Miss Uttley carried on drinking after leaving.

Miss Hall said: “She said she was going to Asda to get a bottle of wine. That was the last time I saw her.”

According to CCTV footage examined by police, Miss Uttley bought three bottles of rosé wine from Asda, on Cherry Tree Road.

A post mortem examination found Miss Uttley, who was more than twice the drink-drive limit when she died, had drowned.

She had been in the water for several hours when she was found, the hearing was told.

Coroner Alan Wilson, whose narrative verdict confirmed Miss Utley had drowned, said: “It is clear she was a very popular lady.”

Detectives’ puzzle over hours leading to death

Det Insp Gareth Willis (left) told the inquest: “We looked at CCTV in and around Asda but after about 8.30pm we have no idea where she went.”
Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde Alan Wilson said: “Having attended a social gathering with her partner on the evening of September 17, Bernie left her home at approximately 8pm and purchased alcohol at a local store. 
“It cannot be established how she came to be in the sea.”

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