TRAIN DEATH WAS SUICIDE: INQUEST

MENTAL health campaigner with a history of depression killed herself after stepping in front of a high-speed train.

Ida Winbourne — known to friends as Ruth — died of multiple injuries following the incident at Hampden Park Railway Station on February 12.

An inquest heard how the Sidley Road resident had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and that her father had committed suicide in the same way when she was a teenager.

The 68-year-old, who had been chairman of Eastbourne Mental Health Action Group since 2000, had taken an overdose years earlier and was in the care of the older people's community health team.

On the day of her death she had taken a taxi to the train station and had been the only person on the London-bound platform when the incident occurred.

The court heard how she was struck by the Victoria-bound service which had left Eastbourne at 2.55pm and was not due to stop at Hampden Park.

A statement read on behalf of train driver Robert Gertner read, "Visibility was good. As I approached Hampden Park station I could see only one person on the left.

"At first I though this person was waiting for a following train.

"The person appeared to be getting closer. I sounded the horn and she looked towards me.

"She stopped for a moment and appeared to smile. She then stepped off the edge of the platform into the path of the train.

"I heard a thump on impact."

The area was closed off while train emergency services attended the scene along with an inspector from British Transport Police.

A handbag belonging to Mrs Winbourne was found on the platform. Door keys inside the bag were used to gain access to the widow's home where a suicide note was discovered.

Other evidence read out at the inquest from her GP, Dr Peter Williams, from the Arlington Road Medical Practice, said when he had last seen her on January 23 she had seemed stressed despite receiving an increase of her medication lithium, but had given no indication of planning to take her own life.

Her daughter, Sarah Rees, had spoken to her on the Friday prior to her death when Mrs Winbourne had told her she had felt very low.

Mrs Rees then visited her the next day when she said her mother had seemed more upbeat.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of suicide while the balance of her mind was disturbed.