A heartbroken family have paid tribute to a popular stonemason, 22, who tragically fell down a cliff after leaving a party to return home so his nan would not worry about him.
Christopher Fulford was not seen again after setting off on his bike back to Torquay. His bike was found left by a fence at the top of cliffs at Long Quarry Point in Babbacombe, and his body was found below the next day on September 3, 2020.
It was a location Christopher was familiar with due to his love of fishing, exploring and nature.
An inquest held remotely in Plymouth today heard how after finishing work the day before, Christopher had joined a friend who had been celebrating his birthday at a Wetherspoon’s pub in Newton Abbot.
The former South Dartmoor Community College pupil then carried on drinking at a friend’s house where he was offered to stay the night but declined, as he lived with his nan and did not want to worry her as he had also been out the previous evening.
In a statement his friend Aidan Witham, whose birthday it had been, described Christopher as having been his ‘usual happy bubbly self’ and that they had enjoyed a ‘lovely happy night’.
He recalled Christopher left about midnight and his last message from him was at 12.20am saying he had bought some more alcohol and would be heading home after being told his friends were going to bed.
Aidan said: “He liked the sea and it was quite common for him to post photos on Facebook of him sitting somewhere in Babbacombe or similar on his own with a lovely view and a beer.”
He added Christopher did not like heights and said: “I think he must have slipped.”
Paying tribute to him, he said: “He was always the happiest jolly lad. Everyone loved him.”
The cause of Christopher’s death was confirmed as multiple injuries following a fall from height.
Toxicology results showed he was one-and-a-half times over the legal drink-drive limit, and traces of cocaine were detected.
The report said: “The cocaine was lower than a toxic range, but in combination with the alcohol it may have been a contributory factor to his fall.”
Detective constable Jason Parsons, the officer in the case, concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.
He told how Christopher’s bike had been left on one side of a fence and he had gone over or around the fence.
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Det Con Parsons concluded: “It is more likely he had fallen after going up there to sit and have a drink or take a photo.
“There was nothing on his phone to suggest it was someone looking to harm themselves.”
Recording an open conclusion as it was not clear from the evidence how he came to fall, coroner Ian Arrow said: “He left his bike, crossed the fence and has gone to the edge of the cliff top, I don’t know for what particular reason.
“There is no evidence whatsoever he intended to end his life so I discount that.
“I can’t be certain, however, if he fell or something else happened, but there is nothing suspicious about this death.
“On the balance of probability he was probably intoxicated and fell, but I can’t be certain of the reasoning for that.”
Paying tribute to Christopher, his family said he came from a loving caring family and had many friends.
He was described as happy-go-lucky, kind and a joy to be around.
It was added how he would light up a room and he often had people in stitches of laughter.
He worked locally as a stonemason and in his spare time was an adventurous person who was often climbing and fishing around Wall’s Hill where sadly he died.
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His family said: “He had many aspirations he wanted to do in life. He was full of character, was kind natured and always helped anyone in need.
“Our memories of him will last a lifetime. He will always be in our hearts and will never be forgotten”