Family of much-loved Sidmouth teen thank community for its support after inquest

Sam Marriott with his sisters, Tania and Kate.

Sam Marriott with his sisters, Tania and Kate. - Credit: Archant

Loved-ones of Sam Marriott say, ‘We feel the loss of Sam every day and remain heartbroken,’ but thank people who tried to save him and Sidmouth community.

The family of a much-loved Sidmouth teenager, who died after falling from a wall on his way home after a night out, have thanked the people who tried to save him.

An inquest yesterday heard popular Samuel Marriott, known as Sam, suffered a fatal head injury after slipping while taking a shortcut.

Sam, 19, was found unconscious in the grounds of the Sidholme Hotel in the early hours of Sunday, February 26.

Hotel guests tried to save him by performing CPR, the hearing at County Hall in Exeter, was told.

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Sam’s ‘heartbroken’ family have thanked them and the ‘kind and generous community’ of Sidmouth for its support.

After the hearing, they said in a statement: “We feel the loss of Sam every day and remain heartbroken, but would like to thank the Sidholme staff and guests who did their best to save him.

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“Also a sincere thank you to the hundreds of friends who attended the funeral, played music and partied at the sunny wake provided by Dukes.

“We draw comfort from knowing that Sam would have enjoyed his send-off and your continued support has been a great comfort.

“The awards ceremonies and charity matches held by Sidmouth College, Sidmouth Football Club and Sidmouth Tennis Club have been an honour to attend and the new trophies dedicated to Sam have filled us with pride; we’ll be back to try and win the tennis one next year.

“We are so lucky to live in such a kind and generous community.

“The two charities that we nominated on behalf of Sam, the RNLI and HCPT (Hosanna House and Children’s Pilgrimage Trust) have benefitted thanks to local generosity, with hundreds of pounds being raised through charity games and also Hattie and Lil’s pilgrimage.”

The inquest heard that Sam, of Upper Highfield, had left the town centre at around 3am after a night out drinking.

He walked part of the way home with a friend before they parted ways and Sam went alone to the grounds of the Sidholme Hotel, which he regularly used as a shortcut, although the gate was locked overnight.

The inquest heard that keen sportsman Sam, a climber since childhood, attempted to scale a high wall, but he slipped and fell.

One of the hotel guests reported hearing a ‘loud thud’ at 3.30am, but Sam was not found until around 5.30am. Despite attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 6.10am.

In a statement to the inquest, Sam’s mum Debbie Marriott said he had seemed ‘completely normal’ before he went out.

She said he regularly cut through the grounds of the Sidholme Hotel, but she was ‘surprised’ he chose to do so after a night out.

“I suspect he was on autopilot,” said Mrs Marriott. “I can only assume he was disorientated and perhaps drunk. He was always a climber from a young age. He was fit and strong through all the sport he did. He had really good hand-eye co-ordination.”

She described Sam’s attitude towards alcohol as typical for someone of his age, adding: “He was bright and engaging and had lots on the horizon. He had a girlfriend and planned to go travelling this year and then to university.”

The inquest heard that hotel guest Elaine Bridger, a nurse, heard a ‘loud thud’ at 3.30am, followed by silence. She later got up and went outside, where she saw a woman was performing chest compressions on Sam. Mrs Bridger took over the CPR until the paramedics arrived.

A post-mortem showed that Sam was more than double the drink-drive limit.

Detective Sergeant Mark Oldershaw said he saw scuff marks ‘high up’ a wall and there were corresponding marks on Sam’s shoes and clothes. He added: “It seems most likely he was trying to climb the wall while intoxicated. It was clear he had fallen from a considerable height onto a solid floor. There was no evidence to suggest any third-party involvement.”

Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a conclusion of accidental death and said: “I am satisfied that in the early hours, at approximately 3.30am, Sam attempted to climb a wall at the Sidholme Hotel. He fell, injuring his head fatally. Alcohol was a factor.”

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