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By Neil Sears
Last updated at 9:52 AM on 11th November 2011
A solicitor worried about paying his children’s private school fees jumped in front of a train and killed himself, an inquest heard.
Vincent Buffoni, 49, was spending up to £30,000 a year to send Matthew, 14, to elite Charterhouse, and extra to send Francesca, ten, to a prep school.
But the law firm he owned had been hit by the recession, and he had remortgaged the family home to raise £60,000 to continue paying for his children’s education.
Early this year Mr Buffoni, an old boy of Marlborough College, contemplated suicide – writing a farewell note to his family and taking out a life insurance policy – but decided against it, the inquest heard.
The elite Charterhouse School, where Vincent Buffoni, an old boy of Marlborough College, had sent his 14-year-old son Matthew
Then, in May, he leapt in front of a train at a London station. Southwark Coroner’s Court in London was told that immigration law specialist Mr Buffoni, an Oxford graduate, founded Vincent Buffoni and Co in 1994.
As the recession took its toll on his business he suffered depression and anxiety. He had also been upset by the suicide of his brother Peter three years earlier.
One morning in May Mr Buffoni left home in Woking, Surrey, and took the train to Waterloo, from where he usually travelled to his office in Islington, North London, by tube.
‘It does appear to have been a very impulsive, sudden and unexpected thought that passed through his brain’
But instead he went to Lambeth North and lingered on the platform, PC Steve Tucker told the court.
PC Tucker said: ‘The next train entered the station and he jumped down on to the tracks and into its path.
‘The train driver immediately applied the emergency brake, but was completely powerless to stop.’
Mr Buffoni’s wife Nicola, 50, said he had been taking anti-depressants for around a year before his death and had also been on prescription sleeping tablets, to which he feared he had become addicted.
In February he had asked to be admitted to a psychiatric treatment centre for his own safety, she told the court. Mrs Buffoni added: ‘His business had been hit by the recession and he was very concerned about our financial situation.
‘Our children are at private schools and we have been very careful with money. To ensure our son could complete his education we had taken out an additional loan of £60,000 secured on our house.
‘He continued insisting we would have to sell our house and send our children to state school in order to survive on a dwindling cash pot.’
But Mr Buffoni’s sister Clare said his mood had improved in the days before his death after he started a course of the anti-depressant venlafaxine.
‘He told me that he felt his brain had clicked back into gear,’ she said.
Mr Buffoni was worried over the financial performance of his law firm of the same name
She said she feared the new medication could have been responsible for triggering suicidal impulses, but doctors told the inquest it had been given in accordance with guidelines.
Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said there was insufficient evidence to record a verdict of suicide, and instead concluded Mr Buffoni had killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed.
The coroner said: ‘Mr Buffoni must have suddenly had some black thoughts.
‘He got off the train, waited for another train and jumped in from of that moving train and died instantly.
‘It does appear to have been a very impulsive, sudden and unexpected thought that passed through his brain.
‘Although there was a note it was written some time earlier and there doesn’t appear to have been any planning of this event whatsoever.’