Father relives finding daughter’s body in river

A HEARTBROKEN father has described the tragic moment he and a friend pulled his missing daughter’s body from a freezing cold river.

Melvyn Greenaway’s daughter, Hayley, went missing from her family home in Braintree earlier this year, Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

The 27-year-old’s disappearance was reported on police on the morning of January 22 but Miss Greenaway was found in the River Brain the same day.

The inquest was yesterday told how Miss Greenaway had been badly affected by the death of a young niece, named as Becky, last June and had been regularly visiting her grave at Braintree cemetery to lay flowers.

When she went missing a friend of the family, Lee Clark, suggested they should search for her in the area of the cemetery.


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And it was Mr Clark who spotted Miss Greenaway in the river and pulled her from the water into her father’s arms.

Mystery surrounds exactly what happened to the young woman who had been looking forward to starting a new job as a carer and was hoping to get engaged on Valentines Day.

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Mr Greenaway, who lives in Braintree, told the inquest that on the night before his daughter’s death she went to visit friends and agreed to call him at 7pm.

The call never came and when he phoned her mobile she did not pick up.

When there was no sign of her by morning they joined Mr Clark to search near the river close to the cemetery knowing Miss Greenaway used it as a shortcut to get to her sister, Caroline’s house.

He said: “The pair of us went down there and there she was in the river.

“We got her out and Lee phoned the police and they were there in about 10 minutes, they were so quick.

“I was covering her and there was froth coming from her nose. I think that was from where I squeezed her.”

Mr Greenaway, who went in up to his chest, had to be given oxygen by paramedics after he was left with breathing difficulties after being in the cold water.

The inquest heard Miss Greenaway had been carrying a small black handled kitchen knife when she was found, but suicide was yesterday ruled out by the coroner.

Mr Greenaway said: “It was just a plain accident and I think that the cold water done it.”

The inquest heard Miss Greenaway had been suffering from depression but had been feeling better since her doctor switched her to Diazepam.

He described how she had been looking forward to starting a new job.

“She used to help everybody – she was such a happy girl.

“She was so pleased – she was saying everything is turning right for me – it’s about time and she was so happy – it was not in her head to harm herself at all,” he said.

A post-mortem showed Miss Greenaway, who also lived in Witham, had very little water in her lungs and did not show the “classic patterns” of drowning and that she had died from immersion.

Essex Police’s investigation concluded there were no suspicious circumstances involved with the death.

Caroline Beasley-Murray, the Essex Coroner, recorded an open verdict.

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