A TEACHING assistant could have accidentally hanged herself when a sex game went tragically wrong, an inquest heard.

The body of Andrea Crossfield, aged 44, was discovered at the home which she shared with her boyfriend in Bealey Avenue, Radcliffe.

Ms Crossfield worked at Hollins Grundy Primary School in Bury. She was found dead on September 6, 2008, Rochdale Coroner’s court was told.

Her partner, Gavin Openshaw, denied suggestions she was participating in a sexual act.

He said he believed she intended to kill herself because she was depressed.

But the inquest heard that the couple had been involved in a “strange” relationship since they met on a blind date a year earlier.

The court heard that Mr Openshaw told police that Ms Crossfield was dressed as a schoolgirl when he found her. He was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following her death but was released and cleared of any involvement.

Ms Crossfield’s youngest daughter, Jade Crossfield, aged 21, said her mum was a proud woman who would not have intended to kill herself.

She said: “Mum confided in me that he (Mr Openshaw) had made her dress up in different outfits.

“She was respected by teachers, pupils, parents and everyone she met. I can’t accept that she would ruin her reputation by taking her own life dressed as she was.”

Ms Crossfield’s father, Graham Fleet, aged 74, said: “I can only describe their relationship as strange and not natural. There were problems.”

Recording an open verdict, coroner Simon Nelson said: “The police could not rule out the possibility that Ms Crossfield and Mr Openshaw may have been involved in sexual activity that included some sort of asphyxia strangulation.

“I do not believe that the account of Mr Openshaw suddenly awaking having been asleep whilst being blissfully ignorant of what Ms Crossfield was doing to be at all credible.

“The evidence very strongly suggests that this was a consensual act.”

After the inquest, Miss Crossfield’s eldest daughter, Natalie Crossfield, said she felt the police investigation was somehow “botched”.

She said: “It is quite obvious this was a sexual act. She would not have taken her own life.”