Coroner probes 'rumour and speculation' around Christchurch woman's fatal fall

An inquest is looking into the death of Kimberley Grace Williams, 38, who died during the night...
An inquest is looking into the death of Kimberley Grace Williams, 38, who died during the night of April 20, 2018, in Christchurch. Photo: NZME
A coroner is probing the circumstances leading up to the death of a woman who fatally fell at a Christchurch flat after a heavy evening drinking wine.

Kimberley Grace Williams, 38, had been drinking at a friend's flat on the night of April 20, 2018 when she hit her head on her back doorstep and died.

Police concluded that Williams' death was not suspicious.

But a neighbour staying at his grandfather's place, who had been up late playing PlayStation, says he was distressed to hear yelling and voices that night.

Another neighbour at the social housing units who was woken in the night to help call emergency services after Williams had fallen at the back door thought things appeared odd.

An intoxicated friend who had hosted Williams at her flat that night knocked on the neighbour's door to use his phone to call 111.

She said she had found Williams after going out the front door and around to the back door.

"To me, that sounded very strange. She could have just gone out the back door. It just seemed strange to me that was all," he told an inquest into Williams' death in Christchurch today.

She also allegedly told him: "They won't believe me in court."

The woman, who has interim name suppression, also told police who turned up at the scene that they had earlier had "a wee bit of words" but had made up during the night.

At the start of the day-long hearing, Coroner David Robinson said the inquest was going to look at how Williams died, and if anything can be learned from it.

The narrow issues would cover what the cause and circumstances of death were – and whether it was an accidental fall or "something else occurred to precipitate the fall".

Coroner Robinson emphasised that his role was to address rumour and speculation so that the cause and circumstances of death was clear.

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage said she died of head injuries and

bleeding on the brain.

Her blood alcohol level, the inquest heard, was 443mg per 100ml of blood - nearly nine times the current drink driving limit.

Detective constable Fleur Jamieson who attended the sudden death said the woman whose flat it was seemed intoxicated.

The woman had told another police officer that Williams had been "strutting her stuff" and when she left the address she was on a high – but it wasn't clear what the witness meant by those statements.

Jamieson said the woman had been reluctant to talk to her and mentioned that she'd had words with Williams during the evening – but they'd made up during the night.

They had both been drunk, she told the inquest, admitting to consuming a lot of alcohol and doing a lot of singing. She thought Williams was going to sleep on her settee in the lounge.

But when she went to the toilet, the witness said Williams hadn't been there. She was worried because she herself had been assaulted near the letterboxes recently and was concerned for Williams' safety.

She had a cigarette and another glass of wine and thought, 'Oh shit, better got find her' and then found her lying at the back doorstep.

The woman initially thought Williams had "passed out with alcohol poisoning".

She tried to phone 111 but her phone was flat. That was when she tried knocking on neighbours' doors to raise some help.

The woman denied any aggressive physical contact with Williams that night.

At the end of her evidence this afternoon, the woman spoke directly to Williams' parents in the courtroom, saying maybe they should've have drank together but they were friends and Williams had tried to help her.

"She was a good person to me and I wish it could be different," she said, getting emotional.

"Thank you, we've all been through a lot," the grieving father said.

"I'm sorry. I wish there was more I could say," the woman said.

After the witnesses were heard today, Coroner Robinson adjourned to reserve his findings.












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