Teen died in freezing river after argument over Cure album with boyfriend

Pearl Bamford, 19, was found dead by a river with her clothes and shoes nearby. Picture: SWNS
Pearl Bamford, 19, was found dead by a river with her clothes and shoes nearby. Picture: SWNS
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A teenage girl died of hypothermia after jumping into a freezing river following an argument with her boyfriend over a Cure album, an inquest heard.

Pearl Bamford, 19, was found dead by a river with her clothes and shoes nearby.

She had been staying with her boyfriend, Sydney 'Syd' Whittaker and had drank a bottle of wine before pair started arguing about the music.

Pearl, who was described as a 'firebrand' and 'impetuous' during the inquest health in Truro, Cornwall, was then seen on CCTV jumping into the freezing river.

Her body was found on the opposite side to where she jumped in, and it was concluded that Pearl had not deliberately intended to take her own life.

The inquest was attended by Pearl's father, Jonathan Bamford, her bereaved boyfriend and Sydney's father, Matthew Whittaker.

It was heard that on March 14, 2019, the night before her death Pearl had stayed at Sydney's house and had offered to help Matthew with the weekly shop.

Matthew had broken his ankle and Pearl offered to drive the three of them to a nearby Tesco.

While at the shop, Pearl was reported to be in a good mood and was laughing and joking, but the mood changed when they returned home.

Sydney said: "I met Pearl through college by having friends of friends. I knew her for a year and seven months."

He said the pair had fallen into a relationship quickly and that it had its 'ups and downs', but there was nothing that seriously alarmed Sydney.

But he remarked that should could be volatile, "at times".

He continued: "That evening we were down with my dad to do a shop, we were there for about 15 to 20 minutes and then Pearl drove us back.

"Then we went and sat up stairs in the spare room which was made into a kind of sitting room.

"We had bought some alcohol, a bottle of wine each. We turned off the TV and were chatting and having a couple of drinks.

"We had a very trivial conversation about a Cure album that ended up in an argument which I would say was more on Pearl's side than mine."

Sydney added that Pearl "became very angry" and left, taking her possessions with her and saying she was going to drive home.

That was the last time he saw her alive.

The next morning, on Saturday, March 15, a member of the public found Pearl's body lying next to the river bank and called the police.

PC Amanda Swain, a dog handler for Devon and Cornwall Police, said that she was called to the scene as no other officers were in the area.

She said: "She was found with her head facing down towards the river and her feet were up the last couple of steps.

"She was clothed but only wearing one sock, she had some leggings on and a t-shirt that was slightly up."

PC Swain confirmed that there were no signs of assault.

Detective Constable Mark Jenkins investigated the circumstances surrounding Pearl's death and stated that he did not believe she intended to take her own life.

He said that Pearl was seen on CCTV returning to Tesco to purchase more alcohol and a packet of paracetamol.

He added the fact that she had taken off some of her clothes before entering the river, and the fact that she left the other side, were signs this wasn't a suicide attempt.

DC Jenkins said: "It was a deliberate act to jump into the water."

A toxicology report showed that Pearl had 341mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, more than four times the drink drive limit, despite weighing less than 50kg.

Concluding, senior coroner for Cornwall Andrew Cox said: "Pearl was a lively teenager and a colourful character who had issues.

"On the night in question (the group) went to the shops and then drove home. She goes up stairs with her boyfriend and shares a bottle of wine.

"For whatever reason there was a minor disagreement and Pearl's reaction was out of proportion.

"(she was seen on CCTV) dropping onto a ledge close to the water and she is then seen to jump into the river.

"I do not believe this is an attempt by Pearl to drown herself. She evidently reached the other side of the river and got out.

"She would have been bitterly cold and the reserves she had left after getting out the river would have been diminished.

"It seems as she has tried to raise the awareness of nearby residents and two have heard her and failed to intervene.

"One was a young lad who could not have anticipated what was going to happen and the other was a retired individual who wouldn't have known what he was getting into.

"She jumped in the river not to take her life but got out the other side and succumbed to the affects of hypothermia.

"This was deliberate act with an unintended outcome."

Mr Cox recorded a verdict of 1A Hypothermia and acute alcohol excess.

Describing his daughter as "impetuous" and a "firebrand", Matthew said: "She could do things in the spur of the moment.

"I would like to say thank you, I thought that the police's compassion towards us was commendable.

"I don't blame a blame anyone, not Syd. We hope she's happy now she's outside of her body and is at rest.

"She fave a huge amount while she was here, she's left a legacy. It's not about the length of her life but the breadth of it."