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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 13:25 GMT
Cliff walker fell 200ft to death
The beach at Durdle Door in Dorset
Mr Preston was found by rescue teams searching for two missing fishermen
A 25-year-old medical student died after falling 200ft (60m) down a sheer cliff onto a beach while walking along a beauty spot on the Dorset coast.

An inquest heard how Benjamin Preston, from Evershot near Dorchester, suffered massive head injuries in the fall on 16 December last year.

His body was found at White Nothe, near Weymouth, by rescue teams searching for two missing fishermen.

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He was fully dressed in outdoor clothing, wearing a backpack
Dc Philip Cottrell

Mr Preston, who was a student at King's College London, had just passed his exams and was preparing to spend Christmas with his family.

On the day of his death, he left for a walk along the coast. When he did not return in the evening, his mother, Shirley Preston, began to worry.

Dc Philip Cottrell, of Dorset Police, told the inquest that when the police helicopter found him, Mr Preston was already dead.

He said Mr Preston had a tear in his trouser leg and grass stains from the verge at the top of the cliff.

Dc Cottrell told Bournemouth, Poole, and East Dorset Coroner's Court there were no foot marks on the shingle beach, indicating he had fallen.

Depression

He said: "It was a 200ft sheer cliff. He was fully dressed in outdoor clothing, wearing a backpack. He appeared to be dressed as if walking the cliff.

"The footpath that is regularly used is very close to the cliff edge. There is nothing to stop anybody from accessing the cliff edge."

Mrs Preston said her son, who had travelled widely, spoke Mandarin and intended to work abroad, possibly in China.

She said he had suffered a bout of depression in March 2005 but added: "Ironically, walking was one of the ways in which he cured himself."




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