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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Open verdict on chess star death
Jessie Gilbert
Jessie Gilbert fell from an eighth floor hotel window
An open verdict has been recorded at an inquest into the death of a chess prodigy who fell from a hotel window in the Czech Republic.

Jessica Gilbert, 19, from Croydon, south London, plunged from the eighth floor of the complex in Pardubice.

Her death came weeks before her father Ian Gilbert was due to face trial on five counts of raping her over a period of five years. He was later cleared.

The Epsom inquest heard Miss Gilbert had a history of self harming.

The hearing was told Miss Gilbert, who was in the Czech Republic for a chess competition, was two-and-a-half times the legal drink-drive alcohol limit when she died from injuries consistent with a fall from a great height.

She was also taking anti-depressants at the time of her death.

Secret drinker

Her mother Dr Angela Gilbert gave evidence that the teenager was "absolutely terrified of" her father.

Mr Gilbert, a director with the Royal Bank of Scotland, had been accused of repeatedly raping Miss Gilbert at the family home in Woldingham, Surrey, between 1995 and 2000.

After a trial in November last year he was found not guilty of five counts of rape against Miss Gilbert and cleared of six other charges of rape and indecent assault against other people.

She looked relaxed and serene. That was the last time I saw her
Dr Angela Gilbert

He was present at the inquest along with his new wife, Sally.

Speaking at the inquest Dr Gilbert said her daughter was not a heavy drinker but that she had confessed to drinking in secret.

On New Year's Eve 2003, the teenager became drunk and climbed Croydon's clock tower, alleging to friends that she had been raped by her father, the inquest heard.

Dr Gilbert said: "When she drank she developed feelings of self-loathing and self-destructiveness."

She told the inquest that she had dropped her daughter off to fly out from Heathrow for the Czech chess tournament in July 2006.

"She put her arms around me and smiled and said that she loved me and everything would be all right," Dr Gilbert said.

"She looked relaxed and serene. That was the last time I saw her."

Jessica's mother Dr Angela Gilbert and sisters Sam (left) and Anni
Dr Angela Gilbert (centre) said Jessica drank in secret

The mother of a girl who shared the room where Miss Gilbert fell from told the inquest how her daughter had woken her that night concerned for her room mate's safety as she had vanished.

The woman, who cannot be named, said: "I walked along the corridor and it was only as we approached the escalator that my daughter said: 'Mum - I think Jessie has jumped from the window'."

Asking for a torch and blankets from reception, she went outside where she found the teenager's body.

Miss Gilbert's GP Jonathan Lewis told the hearing he had seen her a number of times over the years and first began noticing signs of depression when she was about eight years old.

He said he had asked her if she felt suicidal and she had always said no.

Mr Lewis said Miss Gilbert appeared to be looking forward to the future and going to Oxford and he planned to take her off the anti-depressants after her father's court case.

Chess star fall probe continues
31 Jul 06 |  London

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