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By Daily Mail Reporter
8:57am Wednesday 10th August 2011
A football fan whose friend died in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, threw himself in front of a train 22 years later because he felt guilty at having sold him the ticket.
Stephen Whittle, aged 50, had suffered from anxiety and depression since the tragic match in 1989, Bolton Coroner’s Court was told.
Ninety-six Liverpool fans lost their lives at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, at Hillsborough stadium, Sheffield, on April 15.
Mr Whittle, of Elizabeth Street, Atherton, had sold a ticket for the game to a friend, who died during the incident, the coroners court was told.
He took medication for his depression and although his family knew of problems in the past, they did not know he was still affected by the tragedy.
On February 26 this year, Mr Whittle jumped in front of a train between stations in Daisy Hill, Westhoughton, and Hag Fold, Atherton.
Doctor Ashok Atrey told the court: “He sold a ticket to a friend of his who went to Hillsborough to watch the Liverpool match and unfortunately he died.
“He was offered counselling but he wasn’t keen on it.
“He said he had support and he didn’t need it.
“He was asked about suicidal thoughts and he didn’t have any.”
Police were called to the railway line near North Road in Atherton, where Mr Whittle was struck by a Northern Rail train heading to Atherton station.
Coroner Jennifer Leeming said Mr Whittle had died from multiple injuries consistent with being struck by a train.
She recorded a narrative verdict saying: “He took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed by his suffering from diagnosed depressive illness.”
She added: “That awful tragic event that happened so long ago is still reaching out and touching people.
“Especially for a man who was so keen on football, it was a big part of his life and to have that awful event associated with such a pleasure must have been troubling as the years went on.
“He was clearly a very private man who didn’t confide, even the good things, to his family.
“He was clearly a popular man both in work and at home.”
Mr Whittle had worked as a fabricator at PPG Industries Ltd in Hindley Green for around 20 years.