Birthday celebration ends in cliff death plunge

Last updated 08:30 10/09/2012

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A man celebrating his 40th birthday with a group of mates on a clifftop stumbled and fell to his death in Sydney early yesterday.

Police said the man was sitting near the cliff's edge in Eastern Avenue, Dover Heights, when he tried to stand up, stumbled and fell into the sea.

''He was seen to roll a number of times and that was the last he was seen,'' said Inspector Andrew Sipos, of Rose Bay Local Area Command.

Emergency services arrived about 1.25am and began a search at the bottom of the cliff face, in the water and from the air. A recreational fisherman spotted the body about 9am, one kilometre offshore from the golf course at North Bondi.

The man had been celebrating his birthday with about nine friends. The group went to the cliff at Dover Heights as a friend of the man lived nearby.

An Eastern Avenue resident said she heard ''cheerful noises'' before midnight but was not kept awake by them.

Harry Lam, whose Eastern Avenue house overlooks Dover Heights Reserve, said it was not unusual to see people climb the fence.

''The fisherman are over there all the time.''

Police said the death appeared to be a ''tragic accident''.

-Fairfax Australia

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