Dad-of-one found dead on romantic weekend away

Ralph Leyland was one a romantic weekend away in Scarborough with his girlfriend
Ralph Leyland was one a romantic weekend away in Scarborough with his girlfriend
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A romantic break to the seaside turned to tragedy when a 36-year-old Haydock man was found dead near his hotel, an inquest heard.

Ralph Leyland, from Haydock, Merseyside, had visited Scarborough with his girlfriend for the weekend in August last year.

Countless tributes were paid to Ralph Leyland following his death last year

Countless tributes were paid to Ralph Leyland following his death last year

They had gone out for a meal and drinks after checking into the Grand Hotel, but the next morning Mr Leyland was found dead behind a bench on a terrace below the hotel.

It is believed he had “stumbled” and fell, hitting his head on the bench he was found behind.

The couple had been drinking cider and lager and had shared three bottles of wine.

The pair had separated at some point during the evening and Mr Leyland was last seen on South Bay on CCTV alone at around 12.15am.

Mr Leyland was originally found by a homeless man, unresponsive but breathing, behind the bench.

The homeless man had been drinking cider all day and taking drugs and did not have a mobile phone to call for help.

Instead, he said in his witness statement, he put his sleeping bag over the man who was “having trouble catching his breath” but he “thought he had just had too much to drink”.

He then left the area, taking his sleeping bag, and did not return until the next morning to find the area cordoned off.

Three men had discovered the body later that morning.

Speaking as a witness, Mr Leyland’s partner said the last thing she could remember was Ralph singing on the karaoke. The next she knew, she was at the hotel room looking for him. She had sat on the steps outside the hotel and walked in and out of the bar across the street looking for him.

Attempting to hold back tears as she spoke, she said: “I wish I could remember because then maybe it would make sense but I just can’t.”

She woke up the next morning and Mr Leyland had still not returned so she reported it to the hotel staff. She was then taken to another room and told a man matching Mr Leyland’s ID had been found dead.

Det Con Alex Parker, of North Yorkshire Police, attended the scene when police were called after the paramedics had confirmed Mr Leyland’s death.

He said: “Three males believed to be walking their dog in the area found him and called an ambulance. He was certified dead at the scene.”

He said there was no evidence of an assault and it would be a likely explanation that because of the alcohol he would have been unsteady on his feet.

The toxicology report found he had alcohol in his system equivalent to one and a half times over the drink-drive limit.

DC Parker said: “He would have been able to access this path. In my opinion, it would have been the most direct route up towards the Grand Hotel.”

The pathologist found no evidence of an assault and said: “Due to the severity of the damage to Mr Leyland’s brain, he must have been unconscious from the moment he hit the bench. He wouldn’t have been aware of anything.”

Mr Leyland was also wearing a Fitbit activity tracker on his wrist and there was a spike to 160 beats per minute at 12.30am. His heart rate then dropped to just 65 beats per minute until 4.30am when the heart rate stopped.

Coroner Michael Oakley recorded a verdict of accidental death at the inquest at Scarborough Town Hall.