Man fell to death after leaving girlfriend message

A FATHER fell to his death from a gas tower in Eastbourne after leaving a message on his girlfriend’s phone saying he planned to throw himself off.

Nicholas Leyden, of Park Croft, Polegate, was on anti-depressants and had previously been diagnosed with emotional unstable personality disorder.

An inquest into the 38-year-old’s death took place on Thursday at Eastbourne Magistrates Court, which heard he had had financial problems and later in life had been fighting for custody of his children.

He had got engaged to his partner Sarah Buckley in May last year but in the August he had moved out of the property.

On the day before his death there had been a discussion about them not seeing each other for a while.

The following day they met in the evening at around 8pm and later went their separate ways.

Taxi driver Peter Snelling picked up the self-employed builder from Park Croft at around 10pm that night and was so concerned by his demeanour that he called police afterwards.

Mr Snelling told the inquest, “He jumped in and seemed extremely drunk.

“He said, ‘This is the last taxi ride I ever make’. He talked about the trouble he was having.

“He said I should watch the evening news ‘because you’re going to see me jump off it’.

He told the inquest he dropped off Mr Leyden at Tesco, about five minutes away from the gas tower in Finmere Road.

Police arrived at the scene and Mr Leyden, who had left a message on a friend’s phone saying he ‘did not know what to do’ and that he was going to ‘have to let himself go’, was observed at the top of the tower by Sergeant Graeme McKee.

Giving evidence, Sgt Mckee, said he could not gain access to the site and not wanting to startle Mr Leyden by shouting from a distance he stayed where he was.

He said Mr Leyden, who appeared drunk, began to balance on a beam with his arms outstretched.

He added, “He took a few steps, walking about five metres before stumbling and falling.

“His whole body fell off the tower. As he fell he grabbed onto the structure and he lifted himself back up.”

Moments later he said he got to his feet again, adding, “He had his arms out to the side and was swaying from side to side.

“It’s my view he must have known he was likely to fall. It’s my view that almost the decision was taken out of his hands, it looks as if he knew he was going to fall but he didn’t have to jump.

“After travelling about 10 steps on this narrow bar he fell to his right inside the structure.”

A post mortem showed he died of multiple injuries and the inquest heard he was three and a half times over the drink drive limit.

A statement read on behalf of his parents described him as humorous and caring but that he could also be nervous and defensive.

They added, “We didn’t think he intended to take his life, he adored his children, it would have broken his heart to see what they are going through now.

“It was a cry for help, the last one that went terribly wrong.”

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.