Inquests on five young men found hanged in south Wales — (The Guardian)

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The Guardian

Steven Morris

Thursday 20 March 2008 00.17 GMT

  • Three discovered to have taken drugs or alcohol
    · Police ruled out suicide pacts among victims

The sad stories of five young men found hanged in the Bridgend area of south Wales were told at a series of inquests yesterday. Three were found to have taken drugs or alcohol before they died. One got in with the wrong crowd and another had been threatened over money. One of the men was upset at breaking up with his girlfriend and another disappointed when a business deal fell through.

Only two of them were linked. At the start of the inquests, the Bridgend coroner, Philip Walters, said he would examine each of the deaths individually. Previously, the coroner had expressed concern at the number of young people to have taken their lives in Bridgend and the surrounding area, but said he did not believe the deaths were linked.

Police have ruled out suicide pacts among the victims as being a trigger for the deaths, and suggestions that internet sites played a part have also been dismissed.

The first of the inquests was on Allyn Price, described as a “happy-go-lucky” 24-year-old who got in with the wrong crowd. Traces of ecstasy, cocaine and morphine were found in Price’s body when he was found hanged in the garage of the family home at Maesteg in April last year.

Price’s girlfriend, Alisha Austin, said he had started spending time with some people she did not like. Describing a phone conversation they had the day he died, she said: “He said: ‘I have got nothing to live for. Will you always be there for me’? I said: ‘Yes, of course’.”

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict in which he set out the circumstances of Price’s death and said drugs could have affected the man’s judgment. Four weeks after Price’s death, his best friend, Leigh Jenkins, 22, also from Maesteg, was found hanged.  Jenkins’s mother, Beverly, told the inquest her son was plagued by images of his friend’s face and expressed a desire for them to “be together”.

He was prescribed medication for depression but was found hanged at a friend’s flat. The inquest was told there was alcohol and ecstasy in Jenkins’s system that could have affected his judgment and a narrative verdict was recorded.

On August 23 last year, Jason Williams, 21, was found hanged by his fiancee, Sian Davies, in the garage at their home in North Cornelly. They were lorry drivers for her father’s company. Before his death, Davies said Williams became upset when he heard a lorry he was interested in buying had been sold to somebody else to spite him.

A fourth man, Andrew O’Neil, 20, was being threatened over money before his death in September, his inquest heard.

O’Neil’s sister, Charlene, said a man came to his home, threatened to shoot him and asked him to deal drugs on his behalf. He refused. She and her mother found O’Neil hanging at an empty house in Nantymoel. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.

Gareth Morgan, 27, of Bridgend, was upset at splitting with his girlfriend, Leanne Stone, at the time of his death on January 5. He was found hanged in his bedroom. A narrative verdict was recorded.

At the start of the hearings at the Brackla Tabernacle Church, near Bridgend, the coroner said: “I hope these events … have been the catalyst to give us a national strategy covering the whole of Wales for young deaths.”