Thursday 8 December 2016

Partner of 30ft rooftop plunge tealady denies tampering with 'crime scene'

Benjamin Wright

Published 16/09/2015 | 22:47

Scales (stock)
Scales (stock)

The partner of a woman who fell 30ft to her death has told an inquest that claims he tampered with a "crime scene" are "ridiculous".

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Welsh Assembly tealady Jane Wedlake, 54, died after falling through a glass roof outside her top floor flat in Cardiff city centre last year.

Ms Wedlake's neighbours said the almighty crash of Ms Wedlake's body hitting the first floor landing had shaken the grade II listed building.

But her boyfriend of 20 years Greg Capron told Cardiff Coroner's Court he had been oblivious to what happened as he was inside their one-bedroom home wearing headphones while watching a film.

He also denied suggestions he returned to the flat the next day to put a bag of soil next to the smashed glass roof Ms Wedlake had fallen through - after a senior detective said the item had been moved by someone.

Mr Capron faced a series of questions from barrister Tim Greene, who represents building owners Cardiff Community Housing Association.

Mr Greene said: "These two bags appeared right around the time you got back into Flat 11 - is that a coincidence? You put these bags there so the police would think that Jane had fallen while she was doing some gardening."

But Mr Capron said he had nothing to hide, adding: "That is nothing short of ridiculous.

"I loved Jane for 20 years, losing her has been the biggest tragedy in my life."

Emergency services were called to the flats at 91-92 St Mary's Street on November 16 last year after residents heard a massive crash at around 8.10pm before finding Ms Wedlake lying motionless on the first floor landing.

The inquest into her death was told a neighbour ran upstairs and began banging on Ms Wedlake's flat door.

Mr Capron said he knew nothing of the incident until he heard a policeman's footsteps behind him while sitting in the living room watching a movie.

Mr Greene asked him: "The building shook when she fell, it was described by your neighbour Liam Woodland being like the sound of a car crash. And you didn't hear a thing?"

Mr Capron said despite a window being open in the flat, he did not hear a thing, and described the headphones he was wearing as "big ones which go around the ears".

He also told the inquest that he could remember several things about that day - such as listening to classical music and having Sunday lunch - but could not recall what film he was watching when Ms Wedlake fell.

He said some details about that evening were hazy because of the extreme distress he suffered - which later resulted in several suicide attempts.

The inquest also heard Mr Capron had tried to return to his home the following morning following an all-night bedside vigil.

However after being refused entry to the flat by two police officers, he managed to take the flat keys back.

Mr Capron said he had found them lying on the stairs - before leaving the building.

After walking around in the rain for around two hours, Mr Capron said he later went back inside the after getting a neighbour to let him in via a fire exit.

"I had nowhere else to go, I didn't have my credit cards on me - and I needed to get warm," Mr Capron said.

He added he then went back inside his flat for a shower as a "measure of comfort".

Mr Greene said: "You knew that the police were carrying out an investigation into a very serious event, going for a shower in your home was not enough reason to disturb a crime scene."

Mr Capron said in "hindsight" he would have done things differently but was not thinking rationally at the time.

The inquest also heard evidence from South Wales Police sergeant Matthew Powell.

He said photographs taken by officers on the night Ms Wedlake fell appeared to show a bag of soil next to a large window which led to the rooftop.

Sergeant Powell said a similar looking bag was later found outside on the roof the following day and he believed it had not been moved by any of his officers.

Architect Mr Capron said he believed Ms Wedlake fell after trying to retrieve some washing which had been hanging from an outside window and had fallen out on the glass roof outside.

Previously, the inquest heard the rooftop was described as an unofficial "communal" area.

Housing association bosses later said they had no idea the area was being accessed by residents.

Following Ms Wedlake's death, an access window was later boarded up and a large warning sign put up.

The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow.

Press Association

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