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The Somerset County Gazette
28 Jan 2007 6:52am today
A POLICEMAN has recounted how he looked on helplessly as a depressed young man plunged 60 feet to his death from a Taunton bridge.
PC Robert Taylor told an inquest he spent almost 20 minutes trying to talk Shaun Richards out of jumping.
Some of Mr Richards’ friends also arrived and pleaded with him before witnessing him throw himself off.
Mr Richards, 25, of Rocketts Cottages, Creech St Michael, had been upset after the break up of a relationship and difficulties in seeing his children.
He died from multiple injuries in the early hours of September 14 last year.
PC Taylor told the court how he and a colleague were called at 2.35am.
“I saw a man in the middle of the bridge hanging onto the railing – he was on the outside as if he was going to jump,” said PC Taylor.
“I was 30 metres away and he shouted, Don’t come any closer. I’ll do it. I’ll jump. I’ve had enough’.
“He said he’d recently split from his partner and she’d stopped him seeing his one-year-old son and five-year-old stepdaughter.
“He was on anti-depressants, but that didn’t help because all he could think about was killing himself.
“All that helped was vodka. He said he’d drunk lots of vodka that night.”
More officers arrived, but they held back as Mr Richards told PC Taylor he had rung his family and friends to say goodbye.
The officer said: “Shaun said, No-one will care – they’re not talking to me’.
“I said it would muck me up to see him jump.
“He said, Tell them I love them all’ (referring to his family).
“He was saying sorry and he loved everyone.
“He emptied his pockets of possessions, placed things over the railing, took off some jewellery.
“Some of his friends had arrived and were begging with him – one was on his knees begging with him, but he didn’t seem to take any notice.
“He ducked from my view from behind the solid barrier.
“He said, Oh, f***’ and disappeared from view – I heard a dull thud and saw his body 60-80 feet below.”
Mr Richards’ father, Graham, and brother, Chris, arrived, only to learn he was dead.
The inquest also heard Mr Richards had a history of psychological problems and attempted suicide twice before.
West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose recorded a verdict that Mr Richards took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.
Mr Rose said: “We live in an era when transitory relationships are fully supported.
“It’s very sad that more permanent relationships aren’t supported enough as they should be, which they were in the past.
“Usually, the needs of the children were put before those of the parents.
“It does cause enormous distress to parents who don’t have access to children.”
*Anyone who would like to talk to the Samaritans in confidence should call 01823-288988 0r 0845-7909090. Alternatively, you can visit the local branch in Wood Street, Taunton.