Priest’s daughter could have been dead “for some days” after falling down stairs, inquest told

Jennifer Butler

Jennifer Butler - Credit: Archant

The 30 year-old daughter of a West Suffolk priest could have been dead for “some days” after a fall at her home, an inquest heard.

Jennifer Butler, of Ness Road, Burwell, was discovered at the bottom of her stairs by her stepfather Lawrence Barton on August 8 last year.

It is not known how long Jennifer, whose mother is the Rev Sandie Barton, parish priest of Barton Mills, Freckenham, West Row and Worlington had been dead. Dr John Grant, who examined her body, said it was “quite some time, maybe even some days”.

Police sergeant Ryan Carter, who visited the house, said animal lover Jennifer may have tripped on a vacuum hose. There was no evidence of alcohol in her body.

Coroner William Morris, recording a verdict of accidental death at an inquest in Chatteris today, said: “She appears to have fallen down the stairs at her home. I would like to send my condolences to the family.”


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The Rev Barton said: “Jenny was a beautiful young woman with a gentle and sensitive soul. Although quite private herself she cared deeply for others and had a special love for all waifs, strays and underdogs.

“She was also incredibly funny, with a quirky, unconventional outlook on life and a talent for witty one-liners.

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“Her family adored her, and the gap she has left in our lives is immense. However we are doing our best to honour her memory by focusing less on our loss and more on her deep goodness and the many things we learnt from her: she made all our lives so much richer and we are grateful that she was with us for 30 wonderful years.

“One thing she taught us from an early age is the power of the animal world to influence human health and wellbeing. Jenny was someone who loved animals of all shapes and sizes, above all horses.

“Life was not always easy for her in her teenage and adult life as she struggled from time to time with depression and an eating disorder: so she understood deeply from her own experience how animals can be a source of comfort, confidence and companionship, and also that they have needs that must be put before our own.

“In particular she loved horses and spent hours tending them at the Burwell Riding Syndicate.

“She seemed to know instinctively that being with these strong and sensitive animals would bring her peace when she most needed it.”

In her memory, her family has set up a small charity called Jenny’s Trust with the aim of supporting and promoting the use of animal-assistive therapies, especially equine therapy, to work with troubled teens and those with mental health challenges.

The Rev Barton added: “Through the trust we hope Jenny’s wisdom, experience and courage will live on and benefit others who face struggles in their own lives.”

Read more about Jenny on her memorial site www.iwantjennyonthere.com.

Donations to Jenny’s Trust can be made via the website.

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