A woman leapt to her death from a City rooftop restaurant after a Facebook stalker exposed her westernised lifestyle to her Muslim parents.
Rema Begum, 29, plunged 80ft from the terrace of Coq d’Argent after sipping a glass of wine and climbing on to a ledge.
She landed in front of horrified workers outside Bank Tube station and died instantly. Once the ‘life and soul of the party’, she had been plagued by an internet stalker who used information from her Facebook profile to send poison pen letters to her and her parents.
She was also suffering depression after losing her manager’s job at the British Library following a row with her bosses, an inquest at City of London coroner’s court was told yesterday.
Miss Begum feared she was living an impure life and as punishment was worried she would not be allowed into paradise. On September 4, she went to Sir Terence Conran’s Coq d’Argent and ordered a glass of wine.
At about 6.30pm, she put down her handbag and glass, with a note underneath it, and diners saw her climb onto a ledge and fall eight storeys.
A post-mortem revealed she was not drunk, and the court heard she had left a string of suicide notes dating back four months.
In her handbag, police found anti-depressants, a bottle of vodka and a note containing contact details for her next of kin.
In the days before her death, Miss Begum, who had lived alone in Islington, North London, confided how she was ‘struggling’ to reconcile her Muslim faith and her lifestyle. The day before she died, Miss Begum had been to her local hospital with her parents after she tried to hang herself – but insisted it was a cry for attention and promised she would not do it again.
Her university friend Avril Atkins said she had been a ‘very happy, very bubbly’ woman ‘like the life and soul of the party’, but had become reclusive. Although she came from a ‘traditional Muslim family’ and followed some practices including fasting, she lived a ‘western life’ independently and had non-Muslim partners which her family had found out about, Mrs Atkins said.
‘She had some problems with Facebook. Somebody – she didn’t know who – had been sending letters to her parents about her lifestyle and relationships.’ Miss Begum reported the abuse to the police, before deleting her Facebook account and replacing it with one using a different name, the inquest heard.
Miss Begum, who was also grieving for a relative, had her British Library contract terminated after falling out with management last Christmas, the coroner was told. Her depression began shortly after that.
Mrs Atkins told the inquest: ‘Towards the end she was having issues with one of her managers. It was causing her a lot of stress.
‘One thing that did really worry me was she did say to me she hadn’t been living a good Muslim life and that she wouldn’t go to paradise and I was saying to her that she had done nothing wrong with the way she lived her life, her family should be proud of her.’
Miss Begum’s parents Abdul and Rufia Hakim did not attend the inquest.
Coroner Paul Matthews recorded a suicide verdict. He said there was no doubt Miss Begum was suffering from depression.