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Inquest into the death of Jeremy Beale, 61, who died cycling down Dover Hill, Folkestone

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

The family of a man who died when cycling home from a gig say his death has left "a big hole" in their lives.

Jeremy Beale lost control of his bike on Sunday, November 4, and collided with metal railings, knocking him unconscious and causing severe injuries, an inquest heard.

Police were called to Dover Hill in Folkestone at about 1am to a report that a cyclist had come off of his bike.

Jeremy Beale with his daughters Eleanor and Hannah
Jeremy Beale with his daughters Eleanor and Hannah

The 61-year-old died at the scene, despite attempts to revive him.

During a hearing into the grandfather-of-four’s death at the Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, police and medical statements were read out.

It was established the cyclist, of Garden Road, Folkestone, had been travelling down Dover Hill towards Folkestone after seeing a Neil Young tribute act in Dover.

There were no witnesses to the accident at the time, nor following a media appeal but Mr Beale and his Carrera Vengeance bike were discovered by a taxi driver heading in the same direction.

The inquest was told it appeared Mr Beale struck the nearside kerb, went across the carriageway and hit the central reservation, colliding head-first with railings after coming off his bike.

Scratches were identified on the bike, kerb and central reservation, where he was found.

The scene of the collision on Dover Hill, Folkestone
The scene of the collision on Dover Hill, Folkestone

A damaged cycle helmet was also found at the scene.

Reading a police statement, assistant coroner Eileen Sproson said: “It is unknown as to why Mr Beale lost control of his cycle.”

Police notes said there was no evidence of any transient hazards or other vehicles being a cause.

The road was considered to be ‘in a good state of repair’ and it was a clear, dry night with good visibility.

Mr Beale also had a light on the front of his bike and it is not believed his mobile phone was a contributing factor.

The hearing was told Mr Beale’s alcohol levels were more than twice the legal limit, according to a toxicity report but that it was unlikely intoxication caused the collision.

Jeremy Beale and his daughter Hannah O'Brien in happier times
Jeremy Beale and his daughter Hannah O'Brien in happier times

It was said CCTV from outside the nearby Valiant Sailor pub prior to the accident showed Mr Beale cycling “carefully, competently and within the confines of the highway code”, according to the statement.

An autopsy report revealed Mr Beale suffered traumatic injuries to the chest and head.

The coroner concluded the father-of-two’s death was the result of a road traffic collision.

Speaking after the hearing, his daughter Hannah O’Brien said his death was "devastating": “It was really shocking. It’s still hard to even think that it’s happened.

"It was hard to hear the details of the accident but it was nice to know he’d been at a band.”

The 31-year-old attended the hearing with her mother Kathy Spooner, Mr Beale’s ex-wife.

Jeremy Beale. Family photos credit: Hannah O'Brien (6970070)
Jeremy Beale. Family photos credit: Hannah O'Brien (6970070)

Mrs O’Brien described her father as “full of life”, saying: “He was very well educated - he had a number of high profile careers and a large group of friends.”

Mr Beale was born in Sydney, Australia but grew up in Africa as a young child where he had a pet monkey.

He went on to gain a masters degree and PhD in international relations, with telecommunication as his specialism.

He was keen on politics and held socialist views. Mrs O’Brien continued: “We spent a lot of time with him as children.

He took us skiing and to Australia to see family. We had a great childhood with him.

"It was hard to hear the details of the accident" - Hannah O'Brien

“He loved riding his bike. He had always been quite fit and active. It wouldn’t phase him to ride miles and miles somewhere.”

Mr Beale moved to Folkestone around three years ago to be closer to his daughter Eleanor, 34.

There he made lots of friends through the town’s music scene, attending small venue concerts.

His favourite artists included Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Mrs O’Brien said had a “very eclectic life”.

She added: “He was a massive character that will be lost for the world.

"We’ll always remember him being full of life and passionate. It leaves a big hole.”

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