Dead child found with Beachy Head bodies

The bodies of a man, woman and child were found at the foot of a cliff today, police said.

The three unidentified bodies were recovered from the bottom of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, this morning.

Sussex Police were alerted after they received a call from the Coastguard at 8.20pm last night.



A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said the victims, confirmed as a man and woman, and the third believed to be a young child, were not thought to be local.

At more than 600ft high, the cliffs at Beachy Head are a notorious suicide spot.

In 2004, the Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team was set up, whose members patrol the clifftop to try to prevent suicides.



Coastguards, police and volunteers from the chaplaincy team remained at the clifftop today, which was cordoned off.

Eastbourne Coastguard station officer Stuart McNab said coastguards on a routine clifftop patrol saw what they believed to be two bodies about 400ft down the cliff just before 8pm last night but it was decided it would be safer to wait and carry out the recovery today.

Mr McNab, who was one of the first to be winched down the cliff this morning, said he found the child's body in a rucksack along with a second rucksack filled with toys.

He said: "The bag was closed when I got to it. I saw what I thought was a doll's head, but on closer examination it was a child."

He said the second rucksack had toys in it including a tractor and soft toys, but added that he did not look closely as he had to wait for police scenes of crime officers to go down to inspect the scene first.

Mr McNab said an average of 20 people jump from the cliffs at Beachy Head every year.

He said there had been cases of multiple suicides before but they generally tended to involve elderly people.



Police said the child was a boy around five years old.

Chief Inspector Dick Coates, who was also at the scene, said: "The bodies have all been recovered now but have yet to be formally identified.

"This may take place later today or may not be until tomorrow."

He said that a car, believed to be a Volkswagen or caravanette, had been recovered from the clifftop car park and was being examined by officers.

He added that the incident was not being treated as suspicious.



Chaplain director Ross Hardy said volunteers from the chaplaincy team had also assisted emergency services but nobody had noticed three people on the clifftop yesterday.

"Our normal role is preventative," he said.

"We talk to people and try to bring them back from the cliff."

He added that the team intervenes to prevent people jumping between 15 and 30 times a year on average.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food