Abigail Brown and James Brum had a life that many people would envy. After all, the British couple had based themselves in Thailand and were working intermittently while learning the local language.
Yes, the pair lived in the resort town of Phuket for around two years. James was a professional mixed martial arts fighter, and both of them regularly trained at a local gym. They enjoyed a fit and healthy lifestyle and were, by all accounts, living life to the full.
In January 2017, for example, 26-year-old Abigail took to social media to tell her pals about her latest health and fitness regime. She also posted a thank-you to the center’s fitness instructors for a recent session.
To many observers, then, the couple seemed to have the perfect relationship and the perfect life. After all, they were clearly in love with each other and were planning to get married and start a family.
So how did it all begin? The pair first met a few years previously while James was studying at university in the English town of Portsmouth, where Abigail lived with her family. After some time, they embarked on a romantic relationship.
And the couple seemed perfect for each other. Indeed, those close to them said that James was something of a gentle giant in spite of his pastime as an MMA fighter. Abigail’s family members, meanwhile, described her as thoughtful and big-hearted with a passion for traveling the world.
Despite her love of travel, though, Abigail always ensured that she remained in contact with family and friends back in the United Kingdom. Her mother told reporters in May 2017 that she enjoyed a close relationship with Abigail, who told her everything about her life.
However, Abigail and James’ story turned into a nightmare on January 7, 2017, after the couple went for a night out together. On this occasion, the couple headed to the popular White Room club in Phuket.
Seemingly, an argument broke out between the pair at some point in the evening. It was later claimed that Abigail had become upset at seeing 29-year-old James talking to another woman at the club.
At this point, according to reports, Abigail angrily left the White Room and returned to the rented apartment the couple were sharing.
James then stayed at the nightclub for at least a couple of hours, apparently to let her calm down. However, when he eventually did return to the apartment he made a horrifying discovery.
Abigail had hanged herself. James immediately called the emergency services, and local sources later described a “hysterical” James frantically urging the medics to help her. But it was too late; she had already passed away.
In the hours following her death, tributes flooded in for Abigail. One poignant Facebook made by her younger brother Will read, “I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better older sis… she always excelled in everything and always kept me and everyone around her so so proud!”
During a May 2017 inquest into Abigail’s death, her mother Jane Rowland recalled the awful moment when she learned of the tragedy. “James said, ‘Abi is gone. We had a silly row, she went back to the room. She hung herself. She’s died.’ He said [the row] was nothing. They did not really row. I did not see them all the time but they had a whole future planned.”
In fact, the inquest held in Portsmouth found that Abigail’s death was unlikely to have come as a result of a deliberate action to end her own life. Rather, the coroner concluded that the cause of the young woman’s death was misadventure. Her mother believes that her daughter had only intended to scare her boyfriend rather than actually commit suicide.
“I know in her mind she thought he was going to follow her back, find her and they would move on and never have that row again,” Rowland told the inquest. “I truly believe Abi did not mean to take her own life. She meant only to frighten him or upset him or make him realize how upset she was in that moment.”
Rowland said she also believed that alcohol may have played a crucial factor in her daughter’s death. Speaking to the press after the inquest, she said, “I can only come to the conclusion that on that night she had too much to drink, was upset and only meant to make James aware of how upset she was. I truly believe that Abi never meant the outcome to be fatal.”
Rowland also said that her daughter had no previous issues that might lead her to commit suicide. “She had a healthy lifestyle and was physically and mentally fit and healthy. She and James’s relationship was a loving one. In terms of Abi’s history, she had never done anything like this before and there were no concerns about mental health issues.”
Coroner Samantha Marsh said she too was certain that nobody else was involved in Abigail’s death. “I do not believe she deliberately intended the consequence of what she did. I am satisfied there is no third-party involvement but I think it went wrong.”
After the inquest, Abigail’s heartbroken parents released a statement in the hope of warning other youngsters about the need to be careful when traveling. It read, “We will always be saddened by the death of our beautiful daughter Abi. There is no one to blame for this moment of folly but there is a lesson to be learned. When young people travel to these hot, exciting places with cheap and unregulated alcohol, they need to look out for each other and always stay safe.”