Disease drove Dean to death — (This is Oxford)

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This is Oxford           

By Maddy Biddulph

April 20, 2006

Simon Williams

The dean of Oxford Brookes University’s prestigious business school stepped into the path of a train because he feared he would die of an incurable disease.

Simon Williams, died of multiple injuries at about 6am on December 6 last year, just outside Radley station, near Abingdon.

The father-of-two had grown anxious after learning he could have Sjogren’s syndrome, an inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court was told yesterday. This is an auto-immune disorder in which immune cells destroy the glands that produce tears and saliva. It can also affect other organs in the body, including the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and brain.

Mr Williams, 53, of The Avenue, Kennington, Oxford, first visited his GP Dr Linda Jones in March last year after he developed a sore left eye. For the next eight months he saw doctors at the Kennington Health Centre, including Dr Jones, during which time he was prescribed anti-depressants. He also saw a specialist who said he could have Sjogren’s syndrome.

Various treatments did not help and he became increasingly concerned, said Dr Jones.

She said: “He was worried that he would never be able to work again, that it would get so bad he wouldn’t be able to go out.”

His anxiety about Sjogren’s syndrome got worse after he read about it on the Internet, she told the inquest.

He was forced to give up work in November last year because of his illness, but was in a positive mood on the day before he died, said Dr Jones.

Colleague Prof Roger Mumby-Croft said Mr Williams was depressed about the uncertainty of what was wrong with him.

First Great Western train driver Gavin Sharp said: “I saw a figure come out of the darkness into the middle of the track. He looked at me, then turned his back and was hunched over with his arms clenched. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that that was deliberate.”

Assistant deputy coroner Dr Richard Whittington recorded a verdict that Mr Williams took his own life.