River death of Sunderland student remains a mystery after investigation draws a blank

Rosie King
Rosie King
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How a student came to drown in the River Wear will remain a mystery after an investigation was unable to trace her movements in the time leading up to her death.

The body of Rose King, known as Rosie to her family, was found 100 metres up stream from the Wearmouth Bridge just before 7.30am on Thursday, April 30.

Flowers left underneath the Wearmouth Bridge after the discovery of Rose King's body.

Flowers left underneath the Wearmouth Bridge after the discovery of Rose King's body.

An inquest into the 22-year-old’s death at Sunderland Civic Centre heard the first year Sunderland University pharmacy masters student was last seen on CCTV leaving her accommodation at Clanny House in Hylton Road at 10.35pm the day before.

Despite police looking through hours of footage from around 15 locations nearby and both sides of the bridge, they could not trace her movements.

Detective Sergeant Angus Grassie, of Sunderland CID, said marine experts and the Port of Sunderland suggested she could have gone in the water around 2 miles upstream of where she was found based on tides and conditions.

A search of the banks a mile in each direction and around the Ropery failed to find any belongings.

Despite extensive inquiries, there were no witnesses to hand or evidence on the riverside where Rosie entered the water.

Coroner Derek Winter

Her two mobile phones, which only held the numbers of her mum, dad and home, were found in her flat, with her last email sent at 2.42pm on the day she was last seen. Her Facebook account was deleted weeks before her death.

Det Sgt Grassie said she was “quite solitary,” had become more withdrawn from her flatmates in the time after Christmas, often getting up ready to study when the others were returning from nights out at 5am.

The tragedy happened at exam time, when students were not seen by tutors.

Coroner Derek Winter was told in March, Rosie, from Newcastle, had taken paracetamol overdose, but she said it was a “one-off” and sought support from student wellbeing services, asking her family were not told.

Clanny House in Hylton Road.

Clanny House in Hylton Road.

Her use of its services tailed off, but shortly before her death she had been back in contact by email and told officials she could wait for an appointment when asked if it was urgent.

Det Sgt Grassie said: “There was no electronic equipment, anything in her phone or from her family or staff members that the state of her mind at the time of her death indicated she was planning to harm herself.

“I think it is fair to say that there wasn’t any criminal or third party involvement in Rosie’s death.”

The inquest heard Rosie had been concerned about an exam, but her father said she had been “the most positive she had been in a long time” when she spoke to him the week before her death and results showed she had passed the test at 60 per cent.

Clanny House in Hylton Road.

Clanny House in Hylton Road.

Pathologist Dr Peter Cooper found her death as caused by drowning, with no indication she had fallen or jumped from a height, and toxicology tests clear.

Mr Winter, giving an open conclusion, said there was nothing to indicate Rosie had committed suicide.

He added: “The appropriate conclusion to record is an open one because it is the only one available.

“Despite extensive inquiries, there were no witnesses to hand or evidence on the riverside where Rosie entered the water.”

Evidence was pieced together to confirm her identity

Images of clothing like those worn by Rosie when she was found in the Wear were issued by police as they tried to identify her.

Similar clothes to Rosie's.

Similar clothes to Rosie's.

The inquest into her death heard how detectives had a theory she was a student and made contact with universities in Sunderland and Durham as they tried to piece together who she was and what led to her ending up in the water.

Police believed she could have entered the water on Tuesday, April 28, or the following day.

She was found by a member of the public, with the recovery operation launched as the tide turned.

Detectives appealed for anyone who had not seen or heard from a friend or relative they had not heard or seen as they worked to find out who she was.

The Wearmouth Bridge

The Wearmouth Bridge