A Bacup mum who died as a result of a traumatic head injury has had her death ruled as an accident following an inquest.

Dawn Walker was aged 38 when she died at the Royal Preston Hospital on July 11, 2020, following the accident at her home 16 days earlier.

The inquest at Accrington Town Hall heard evidence given by three of Dawn’s friends, one of whom was her on-off partner, as well as the pathologist who conducted Dawn’s post-mortem and the detective who was assigned to the case.

The inquest heard that on June 24 Dawn had been with her friend Katie Mulcahy during the day, where they had been drinking together in Bacup before Katie left her later in the afternoon.

Later that day, Katie arrived at Dawn’s house in Newchurch Road along with a friend of theirs, David Talbot. Katie said on their arrival they found Damien Taylor, Dawn’s on-off partner, there, while Dawn’s daughter, Nicole Walker, was upstairs.

Katie said she went into the kitchen and picked up a broken iron from the floor which looked like it had been thrown during an argument. Nobody had mentioned how the iron had come to be broken.

Within five minutes of Katie and David’s arrival, an argument broke out between Dawn and Damien, both physical and verbal.

Katie said Damien was trying to get out of the front door but was not being allowed to as he was trying to take the wine bottle they had been drinking from.

After giving up on getting out of the door, Damien sat down on the stairs and then retreated up, walking backwards, as Dawn began to follow him.

Once at the top, both Katie and David, who were still sat in the living room, described seeing Dawn “flying” backwards down the stairs and landing at the bottom.

They both said they did not think Dawn touched the stairs, banister, or side wall on her way down, though this is disputed by Damien, who said she instead thudded down the stairs and rolled at the bottom.

Both Katie and David said they believed Dawn was pushed down the stairs due to the force at which she fell, while David added he believed Dawn hit her head on the radiator at the bottom.

Katie continued by saying that after Dawn landed, Damien came down the stairs, stepped over her, and left the property.

The pair both said Dawn was unconscious but breathing following the fall, and David added that he called the emergency services and flagged down a police officer outside immediately.

During his evidence, Damien said during the argument, Dawn had gone into the kitchen and returned with what he initially believed to be a knife, though it turned out it was a fork.

In 2017, Dawn received a five year and seven month prison sentence for stabbing Damien during a drunken attack, which led him to think a similar situation was playing out.

He said as he backed up the stairs, he was stabbed in the thigh with the fork, and he believed she was trying to stab him and kick him, though he did not do anything physically to stop her, instead moving out of the way and using his arms and hands to protect himself.

He said as Dawn fell, he did not see her make contact with the stairs, but heard it, and insisted that he did not push Dawn and she fell instead.

Damien was arrested on June 25 at his home address and gave a full comment interview the next day.

He was arrested again on June 15 of this year following a Facebook post on his account, posted at 8.05am on May 22, 2023, which said, in summary: “All I did was push her off me, she hits her head at bottom of stairs.

“I never thought she was as bad as she was. I never laid a finger on her in the six years I was with her, in fact it was the opposite. It was self-defence and no court in the land would say otherwise.”

He said he could not remember writing the post, and though the sentiment of the post reflected how he was feeling, it was not worded how he would have worded it.

Dawn died on July 11 following a stay at Royal Preston Hospital. Forensic pathologist Dr Phillip Lumb, who conducted Dawn’s post-mortem examination, said she had injuries to her head and neck plus skin damage and a bone fracture on her finger.

He added there was damage to the brain consistent with a heavy fall, though there was no skull fracture.

The primary damage Dawn suffered was the impact of the fall, which then set up the inflammatory response which surgeons tried to treat, but it was too severe.

He gave a medical cause of death of head injury

Detective Inspector Tom Edmondson, from Lancashire Police, was the senior investigating officer in charge of the case, which included directing any enquiries and making an assessment on whether any charges should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

He said the assessment of the whole incident was they could not prove to a standard reasonable to present to the CPS whether Damien had pushed Dawn or whether she had fallen in another way.

He said: “We cannot base a criminal investigation on a description of a fall.

"The assessment for the whole incident was we did not have the evidence to support a criminal prosecution of whatever offences we did consider, therefore it was closed as an investigation.”

Giving her conclusion, area coroner Laura Nash said: “All the witnesses agree shortly after they arrived a verbal argument ensued between Dawn and Damien.

"This was a largely verbal argument according to Katie bit this escalated, with Dawn stabbing Damien with a fork.

“All witnesses say Dawn came down the stairs backwards, landing on her back. I find Damien was just above her facing downwards.

“In my view, it is more likely than not Dawn continued to advance towards Damien at the top of the stairs.

"It is more likely than not she was unsteady on her feet. I find in that heightened state of emotion, Dawn did in fact lose her balance and she fell backwards.

“This is the only finding on the balance of probabilities I can make. The fall was not intended and on that basis, the conclusion I reach is one of an accident.”