A former steelworker was found dead on rocks at the bottom of a 40m cliff face, an inquest heard.

Grandfather-of-six James Stein, known as Jim, was found dead at the Mumbles beauty spot on April 29 after a bystander saw him stood on the wrong side of the barrier overlooking the clifftop.

But a coroner said he could not conclude whether the 85-year-old fell intentionally or not and expressed concerns over the police investigation into the death.

An inquest in Swansea on Thursday heard former former Port Talbot British Steel worker Mr Stein came from a close and loving family, but relatives had reported his health deteriorating with him experiencing problems with his memory.

The hearing was told Mr Stein was spotted by a member of the public on a stretch of coast between Limeslade and Rotherslade and she had commented to him about the beautiful morning sunlight. In a statement read to the inquest she said he had responded: “Yes, I am taking it in all in.”

She then walked away but returned moments later due to concerns for his safety only to spot him further down the cliff face on a ledge looking downwards. She said she had then attempted to crawl down to help him but stopped due to the slippery surface and telephoned police. A coastguard rescue team and search helicopters also attended the incident.

 

As she waited for police to arrive she continued to check on Mr Stein until she noticed he was no longer there.

Mr Stein’s son, also called James, had also attended the site having grown concerned that his father had left his home in Higher Lane, Mumbles, and he became aware of a police presence on the cliff.

In his police statement he said when he saw officers he “had a strange feeling in my stomach”, adding: “I saw a few people gathering and I spoke to people who said they had seen a man jump off a cliff.”

Acting senior coroner Colin Phillips said the cause of death had been given as multiple injuries with ischemic heart disease as a secondary cause.

He added: “The key question is whether Mr Stein slipped or whether he jumped off the edge. There is no substantive evidence one way or the other.

“One witness said it was very slippery and we have heard he was beginning to get very confused. He had gone to a favourite haunt but there is no evidence to show he jumped or fell so I cannot say whether it was a deliberate or an accident.”

Mr Phillips raised concerns that just a single witness statement had been included in the police report despite a number of members of the public having been in the area at the time. He was told a limited number of officers had responded to the incident and their priority had been to secure the scene and escort Mr Stein’s son home.

He also expressed concern over the length of time it had take for the report to be submitted to his office and that a bottle containing liquid that had been discovered next to the spot Mr Stein had last been seen had been recovered by police but had been disposed of before its contents had been analysed.

Recording an open conclusion he asked officers present to communicate his concerns to senior officers and requested a formal response to the concerns he raised.