Exmouth biker did not intend suicide, family and friends say

PUBLISHED: 17:17 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 12:52 10 June 2010

Simon Batten, who died in 2009

Simon Batten, who died in 2009

THE family and friends of an Exmouth Satan Slave found dead on a cliff ledge at Budleigh Salterton do not believe he intended to commit suicide.

THE family and friends of an Exmouth Satan Slave found dead on a cliff ledge at Budleigh Salterton do not believe he intended to commit suicide.

Simon Batten, who was an alcoholic and suffered from frequent bouts of depression, was discovered dead in Budleigh Salterton on May 29 2009, close to the cliff path at the East Devon Golf Club.

An inquest has revealed Mr Batten, 38, died from multiple injuries, which medics said were the result of falling 100ft onto a cliff ledge.

Deputy coroner Darren Salter recorded an open verdict, saying he was satisfied Mr Batten fell to his death but was unable to determine if the father-of-three had intended to kill himself.

Mr Salter said Mr Batten had been taking an anti-depressant known to cause dizziness and drowsiness when he died.

And he was found with low levels of alcohol in his body.

Mr Salter said: "He may not have intended to take his own life. He may have fallen off the cliff.

"From a legal point of view I can't be certain.

"I don't have sufficient evidence to be satisfied."

Mr Batten's brother, his ex-wife and best friend thought suicide was unlikely.

Brother David Batten told the inquest he did not believe Simon jumped, saying he 'didn't do heights'.

"If he took one step up on a stepladder he was uncomfortable," said David Batten.

Ex-wife Joanne Batten said after the inquest: "He loved his children and would never have left them. He was a fantastic father."

The inquest heard how family and friends knew Mr Batten suffered from bouts of depression and was taking anti-depressants when he died.

Keen biker Mr Batten frequently told those close to him he sometimes wished 'he wouldn't wake up', but mental health experts declared him risk-free from self harm or suicide.

Best friend Simon Cooke told the inquest: "He was sometimes up and down and sometimes made comments like he didn't think he would live to an old age."

Mr Batten, of Henrietta Place, was discovered by Exmouth dog walker Dean Griffiths, who spotted his body lying face down on a ledge below the cliff path.

It is thought Mr Batten had been sitting on the ledge overlooking the sea before he died.

A green bag containing prescription pills, alcohol and photographs of Mr Batten's children was recovered from the top of the cliff.

His credit card, with a message scratched into the plastic by Mr Batten, was also found at the spot.

Simon Cook revealed to the inquest his demolition worker friend had visited the spot on at least one other occasion.

The inquest heard how Mr Batten had failed to go home on the eve of his death.

His wife, Emma Batten, said she had repeatedly tried to contact her husband on his mobile phone into the early hours of May 29, without success.

She learned of his death the following morning from the police.

Mrs Batten said her husband had failed to return home on a previous occasion.

Workmate Brian Harper, driving Mr Batten home the evening before his body was discovered, told the inquest his colleague 'appeared very down and withdrawn into himself'.

"He didn't want to speak on the way home," he said.

Walker Marcus Scott, thought to be the last person to see Mr Batten alive sitting on the cliff top, told the inquest he looked 'wasted'.

"His face looked empty and his eyes looked glazed," said Mr Scott.

Scores of bikers from across the world formed a motorcycle cortege at Mr Battens's funeral.

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