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Former mayor of Hythe, Keren Belcourt, died after falling at her home, inquest hears

By Sam Lennon

A former mayor fell and hit her head after drinking at a Conservative party fundraiser, an inquest heard today.

Keren Belcourt, who served as mayor of Hythe between 2009 and 2011, fell and hit her head on the radiator, vomited and inhaled the contents.

The 55-year-old had been escorted home from the event on Saturday, December 6 by her mother, who said she was not concerned when she left her.

Former Mayor of Hythe, Cllr Keren Belcourt, who has died suddenly at her home.
Former Mayor of Hythe, Cllr Keren Belcourt, who has died suddenly at her home.

Less than an hour later, her husband Reg arrived home to find her collapsed at the foot of the stairs, and she could not be saved.

The hearing at Folkestone Magistrates Court revealed Mrs Belcourt had consumed 329mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - more than four times the drink drive limit of 80mg - when the tragedy happened.

Pathologist Dr Konstantinos Skendros described the cause of death, on the balance of probabilities, as "pulmonary aspiration" – food in the airway – and suffocation due to alcohol intoxication.

He added that the amount of alcohol and the blow to her head would have affected her co-ordination.

Assistant coroner Christine Freedman said her level of consciousness was impaired by the blow to her head and alcohol intoxication.

She fell in a position that impaired her breathing and this led to her death.

Mrs Belcourt’s husband Reg told the inquest at Folkestone Magistrates Court that the couple had been at a Conservative Party fundraising evening and that Keren had gone home early.

She left at about 10.45pm and was taken home by her mother, who saw no cause for concern and returned to the event.

Mr Belcourt then arrived home at 11.30pm and found his wife collapsed at the foot of the stairs.

Her head was positioned so that her chin was against her chest.

Keren with her husband Reg
Keren with her husband Reg

Paramedics were called but she could not be revived.

Coroner Miss Freedman gave a conclusion of accidental death.

In 2011, while she was Mayor, Mrs Belcourt suffered burns to her face and arms in a freak accident.

She dropped a pot of boiling curry at her home and it exploded in her face.

She had to wear a mask to protect her face but said at the time: "I could feel sorry for myself but there are people a lot worse off than me."

Mrs Belcourt served on Shepway District Council for 16 years.

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