Inquest opened into death of popular entertainer found at foot of West Bay cliff

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Derek Smith, who died following a cliff fall at West Bay Derek Smith, who died following a cliff fall at West Bay

AN INQUEST has been opened into the death of West Dorset entertainer Derek Smith, whose body was found at the foot of West Bay cliffs.

Performing under the name the Amazing Mr Smith, the musician was well known for his entertaining shows in Bridport and the wider area.

Mr Smith died on Sunday after plunging from the cliff at east beach.

The inquest yesterday heard that Derek Roger Smith  of Loders, was found dead at the scene on Sunday morning. The cause of death was "multiple injuries." The hearing was adjourned.

Tributes have poured in for the performer.

Simon Mazzei (corr), of the Olive Tree restaurant in East Street where Mr Smith often performed, said he was ‘shocked’ to hear the news.

He said: “Derek was a talented guitarist and has been part of our evening entertainment for many years.

“Most of all, we’ll miss his eccentric sense of humour. His rendition of “Mull of Kintyre” on homemade bagpipes still makes me giggle.”

Geraldine Baker, of the Ropemakers pub, said: “He was an amazing man and his stage shows were just hilarious.

“It was all very eclectic, very silly but he was also an excellent musician.

“He was a talented man who is going to be sadly missed.”

Her husband John added: “Derek has been playing here on a regular basis for around six months but I met him around 20 years ago when he was on the comedy circuit.

“He was quite a local character.”

Bridport musician and DJ Mitch Norman, who has known Derek Smith for many years, said he was shocked and saddened to hear the news.

“Derek was a true eccentric and a superb guitarist," he said.

“We were privileged to have had his touring show, which he took to the United States, at the Electric Palace and the Ropemakers."

Mr Smith was known for playing the acoustic guitar as well as his own peculiar inventions including the cardboard tube double bass and the musical shoelaces.

He performed across the country, on local and national television and also made an appearance on Ned Sherrin’s radio show Loose Ends before the broadcaster’s death in 2007.

Mr Smith toured the United States five times, as well as appearing in shows in Holland, Germany, Norway and Jordan.

The beach below the iconic East Cliff was cordoned off on Sunday while police officers worked at the scene.

Many dog walkers and residents were shocked to find the East Beach car park full of police vehicles and an ambulance and forensic team vehicles and said it reminded them of some of the scenes filmed for the popular television drama Broadchurch last year.

Bridport police section commander Inspector Mike Darby said: “This man’s next of kin have been informed of his death,” he said. “This is a very sad situation and our thoughts are with his friends and family.”

Speaking at the scene, Detective Sergeant Steve Broadhurst of Weymouth CID said: “While we are keeping an open mind all the signs are that this is not suspicious.”

Mayor of Bridport Maggie Ray said: “This is very sad news.

“I can only say what everyone else has been saying and that it is an awful thing to happen.

“I feel for the family and send them our condolences.”

The funeral will be held at Weymouth Crematorium on Friday December 20 at 3.15pm.

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