Inquest rules Great Ashfield man took own life on Bacton railway line

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A man who became depressed when he lost his work and his pension took his own life on a railway line in Bacton, an inquest has ruled.

Paul Byrne, 66, of Wetherden Road, Great Ashfield, stepped in front of a train after being told a counselling session at his doctor’s surgery had been cancelled because of staff illness.

Yesterday an inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard that Mr Byrne had worked as a typographer and tried in the 1990s to adapt to using a computer but his meticulous way of working cost him his job.

Fifteen years ago he also lost his pension when the company providing it ran into difficulties and, at the time of his death, he was still awaiting compensation.

On July 7, the driver of a London to Norwich train - travelling at almost 100mph - had seen a man standing trackside at Gooderhams Crossing in Bacton and assumed he was taking photographs, said assistant deputy Suffolk Coroner Dr Dan Sharpstone.

As the train got nearer, driver David Warnes, who was supervising a colleague in the cab, said the man walked onto the tracks.

Mr Warnes said: “He looked up at us, put his arms by his sides and didn’t move. It just looked as if he was waiting for the train to hit him.”

Mr Byrne was declared dead at the scene and formal identification was carried out using fingerprints. A post-mortem examination confirmed his death was due to multiple injuries.

In a statement, British Transport Police investigator Terence Hancocks said, four days before his death, Mr Byrne had told a neighbour he was ‘struggling’.

On July 7, Mr Byrne had gone to his doctor’s surgery for a counselling session only to be told that it was cancelled due to staff sickness. It was not the first time that this had happened, the inquest heard.

Mr Byrne had been suffering from anxiety and depression and had told his GP that he was drinking too much, although he was attempting to limit that, said Dr Sharpstone.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Dr Sharpstone said he would be writing to the relevant authorities to ask what arrangements were in place to provide cover for counselling when staff were taken ill.