THE family of zoo keeper Sarah McClay have said 'nothing can bring her back'  - following the end of the inquest into her death.

Miss McClay's long-term boyfriend David Shaw, 25, from Barrow, and her mum, Fiona McClay, 50, from Scotland, said they were determined that lessons be learned.

Mrs McClay, who said she thinks about her daughter 'daily', said: "It's entirely our goal to ensure this doesn't happen again."

And Mr Shaw added: "Whilst this inquest has been a necessary step and allowed us to understand some of the events of the day in greater detail, it cannot bring Sarah back."

Mr Shaw, who works at the Barrow shipyard, added: "We've completed this stage and will see how things move forward."

Asked if the family had a theory about what happened, Mr Shaw said 'yes' but declined to disclose it.

"We're aware that the council in Barrow are still conducting their investigation and it would be wrong of us to say before they've concluded that investigation," he said.

The pair thanked friends and colleagues for their 'emotional strength' and said that donations to wildlife projects in Sarah's name had provided 'a ray of sunshine' during their dark days.

The pair also praised the jury and Coroner Ian Smith for their 'great professionalism' and the 'sensible' and 'reasonable' attitude of all those involved in the inquest.

Miss McClay, 24, was killed by a Sumatran tiger as she cleaned out their dens in the Tiger House at the Dalton-in-Furness zoo on May 24, last year.

The jury's conclusion today effectively confirms that she was killed because the tiger was able to reach her through an 'open' door inside the Tiger House - which should have been kept locked.

The jury of four men and six women returned to the room at 2.20pm in a packed County Hall in Kendal, after around 90 minutes of deliberation.

They had been asked by Coroner Ian Smith to consider five key facts from the evidence they had heard during the four-day inquest.

But Mr Smith had pointed out to the jury that no-one was on trial and that establishing culpability was not their role.

Among the questions Mr Smith had asked the jury to consider was: 'Did the tiger come through gates G1 and G2' - which provided access for the animals into the Tiger House from outside and then into the dark den- and was 'Door 2' open immediately before the attack?

The foreman answered 'yes' and 'yes sir' to both questions.

The jury also agreed that door D2 - which used a bolt - had been 'extended so far as to prevent it from closing into the frame.'

The inquest heard that zoo owner David Gill had tried to shoot the then 11-year-old male tiger called Padang after it dragged Miss McClay, 24, from the Tiger House into its open-air enclosure, but was concerned about hitting Miss McClay.

Summing up, Mr Smith said: "The likelihood is she was dead where she was, but legally the place of death was the Royal Preston Hospital."

"She was trained, she was competent and lots of witnesses say she knew what she was doing.

"Padang and Sarah had got into the same space - something that should never happen. Sarah had been taken (by the tiger) and Padang inflicted fatal, horrible injuries," said Mr Smith.

DCI Bob Qazi, of Barrow CID - the senior investigating officer - told the Gazette the police investigation has concluded and that no charges would be brought against anyone by Cumbria Police.

However, Barrow Borough Council has not concluded its investigation.

The council's legal representatives have indicated the investigation will look at claims of a 'defective bolt' on door 'D2'.

Det Con Mark Bowness, of Barrow CID, told the hearing this morning that they attended the Tiger House.

"On one of the occasions the door (D2) was opened to the full position it remained open."

He said this then happened on three occasions for detectives.

But the inquest also heard from Andrew Crouch, from the HM Inspectorate of Health and Safety, who visited the park on June 18th - following the incident on May 24, 2013.

He said his role was to examine both doors - D1 and D2 - and 'comment on any mechanical failure that may have occurred'.

Mr Crouch said of D2: "I opened the door fully and the door closed itself. I wasn't able to make it stay open of its own accord."

He said he found 'kinks' in a wire in the D2 closing mechanism and insultation tape around a small part of the wire, but it hadn't affected the door from closing.

Asked by a member of the jury how D2 might stay open, Mr Crouch replied: "The hinges..the door closing mechanism, something on the floor?"

Asked if there was any evidence of 'repairs' having been done to the door, Mr Crouch said: "I was not aware of anything being recently repaired."

The hearing had been told that it had become 'practice' among staff for the bolts in the door to be 'extended' by staff to prop it open so that it did not swing shut on staff and lock them in the tiger's dark den when they were cleaning.

On Tuesday, Mr Gill’s lawyer, Paul Rogers told the hearing that the zoo had really ‘rigid regimes’ about doors and sliders as well as dummy sheets and checklists for staff.

Mr Rogers said it was park policy that ‘all doors must be locked when not in use.’

“It’s not sufficient for doors to be kept shut, they must be locked as well,” said Mr Rodgers. 

After the conclusion of today's inquest, zoo owner David Gill read from a statement outside County Hall.

He said: "Sarah McClay was a dedicated and valued member of the animal-caring staff at the park. Her enthusiasm and friendly character were appreciated by everyone she met.

"Sarah was committed to the aims of the park, to conservation and preservation of rare species, as seen for example the Red Squirrel she helped to develop and run.

"Her tragic and untimely death has affected all of us at the park and she is greatly missed. On behalf of myself and everyone at the park, I wish to convey our condolences to Mr Shaw, Fiona McClay and all of Sarah's family and friends."