Wedding snub led to tragic hotel plunge

Shakara Taylor and David Ravencroft
Shakara Taylor and David Ravencroft
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A world championship dancer plunged to her death from the balcony of a luxury Caribbean hotel after her fiance told her he no longer wanted to wed, an inquest heard.

Former Grange Park gala queen Shakara Taylor, 31, was “distraught” after David Ravenscroft, her partner of nearly four years, called off their planned nuptials, saying he wanted to “wait and see where we are in six months time.”

Despite this, the couple remained living together in Georgetown on the Cayman Islands, and after dropping him off at a spa in May last year, Miss Taylor took a lift to the seventh floor of the Caribbean Club hotel.

Just minutes later, she was found dead on the courtyard outside the hotel’s main reception, the inquest heard.

In a statement read out to Blackpool Coroners’ Courtyesterday, her fiance Mr Ravenscroft said he and Shakara had set July 6, 2013, as the date for their wedding.

But in March 2013 he said he want to postpone the marriage which had left her “down in the dumps”.

Just weeks later she dropped him off at a health club and gave him a hug and kiss goodbye before promising to pick him up later.

But when he later texted her he received no reply and got a taxi home, where police informed him of Miss Taylor’s death.

Shakara was seen on CCTV heading to the seventh floor of the Carribean Club hotel - the only floor that could be accessed without a membership or guest pass - before she was spotted on cameras lying on the ground outside the resort.

Her cause of death was recorded as multiple injuries to the chest, head and abdomen as a consequence of a fall from height.

She was also found to have fractures to her skull and cuts to her ribs, left lung, spleen, left kidney and liver.

Mr Ravenscroft said he did not know why she was at the Caribbean Club as she had no friends staying there.

In his statement read out to the court, he said: “She seemed to be down in the dumps and struggling to deal with it.

“I didn’t feel like I wanted to marry although we were still together and I said we should wait and see where we were in six months time.

“It didn’t feel right in my gut instinct that it was the right time to get married.

“When I told her she was distraught but she didn’t seem that way on the morning.”

Shakara spent 15 years performing as a morris dancer with the Crusaders Morris Dancing Club and was runner up at the World Championships many years ago.

She also performed in a Spice Girls tribute act, the ‘Naughty But Nice Girls’.

Alan Walsh, coroner, said no one witnessed Shakara’s fall, with no evidence of anyone else present when she died.

A laptop and iPad belonging to Shakara showed no suicide note, although medical records confirmed the young woman had a history of mental illness including a period of residential psychiatric care.

Medical evidence revealed she had recently been tested for heart problems after she had fainted on numerous occasions, but during a post mortem her heart was described as “unremarkable”.

The inquest heard how Mr Ravenscroft only found out after her death that his fiancée was bipolar and had twice attempted suicide before.

Giving evidence, Miss Taylor’s stepfather Alan Kelly, said he had spoken to her just the week before her death and he had no reason to believe she would take her own life.

Mr Kelly said: “She was very passionate about everything in her life.

“She had dealt with things in her life before and she was dealing with the wedding not going ahead. I didn’t believe for a minute that she would have taken her own life for that reason.”

Recording an open verdict, the coroner said: “It’s understandable to assume that this young lady had jumped to her death but when one adheres to the necessary standard of proof, I fall short of being able to reach that conclusion.

“I can’t be sure baring in mind all the evidence we have heard that it was her intention to jump to her death from that hotel complex on that day.

“I would like to pass on my sincere condolences to Miss Taylor’s family.”