A CHURCH leader from Dawlish died of stab wounds, an inquest opening has said.

The initial hearing into the death of Hazel Huggins, 53, was held before the Plymouth coroner. 

It confirmed the cause or death had been ascertained to be stab wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen. 

The hearing was told by coroner’s officer Graham Hardin the formal identification of Mrs Huggins had taken place. 

It was confirmed she was born in Chester on May 8 1970 and lived at Western Cottage, Ashcombe Road, Higher Dawlish Water, Dawlish.

She was pronounced dead at an address in Ilbert Street, Plymouth on July 29 at 4.55pm.

The hearing was told the circumstances of the death were that, following concern for her welfare, emergency services attended the Plymouth address where she was found.

The statement said: ‘Despite the best efforts of everyone at the scene, she was pronounced dead.’

The inquest was adjourned by the coroner to a later date for a full hearing. 

Mrs Huggins was a member of the leadership team at the Hope Church in Dawlish where she was described as a ‘much-loved’ member of the congregation. 

Mark Jones, church leader, said: ‘The church has been devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of a much-loved member of the congregation.

‘We are supporting her family during this heart-breaking time and would ask that they are left in peace as they attempt to deal with their grief.’

Tributes were paid to her reflecting her ‘enormous contribution’ to the church and wider community.

A Service of Lamentation was held at the church in Swift Road to provide a ‘time of reflection and prayer’.

Mayor of Dawlish Cllr Rosie Dawson said: ‘We are incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Hazel Huggins.

‘She was a beautifully nurturing, positive and compassionate light in our community, particularly at Hope Church.

‘Our thoughts are with her family, friends and church community.’ 

Her family issued a tribute describing the 53-year old as a ‘bright shining light’ who was loved by many.

The family said they are grieving their loss and ask that their privacy be respected at this time.

Bradley Huggins, 24, of Ilbert Street, Plymouth, has been charged with murder and appeared before Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.