Coroner hears pensioner hit by train committed suicide over illness
Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 09:00
A PENSIONER who died after being hit by a train in Hildenborough took his own life because he "couldn't cope" with a blood disorder, an inquest into his death heard this week.
Kenneth Mitchell, 74, of Knowsley Way, died from severe multiple injuries at Hildenborough Station on February 14 after walking across the tracks and into the path of a high-speed train travelling from Tonbridge.
The inquest, held at Tunbridge Wells, heard on Monday he had been suffering from depression for more than a decade before learning he had a problem with his blood cell count and could face leukaemia.
"He couldn't bear the thought of cancer and blood transfusions," said Mr Mitchell's daughter Kay Holdstock. "Dad never lost his marbles. He just couldn't cope with the pressure and the blood disorder."
The coroner's court heard how the 10.47am Hastings-to-Charing Cross train had been travelling through Hildenborough at about 70mph at noon when the driver, David Biggs, spotted Mr Mitchell on the tracks ahead.
Although he sounded his horn and applied the emergency brakes, the Southeastern employee said the man had shown no sign of hearing him and was attempting to climb up onto the platform in a "normal" manner.
Mr Biggs said he realised Mr Mitchell, who died at the scene, had not climbed to safety when he heard something hit the front carriage.
Pc Andy Thompson of the British Transport Police said there had been no witnesses at the station to confirm Mr Mitchell got onto the tracks.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Mitchell's wife Rosalind said he had developed an "obsession with blood and blood tests" and added her husband had told her: "I can't face these blood transfusions."
Mrs Holdstock said he had left a note for his wife with a list of "things to do".
Mr Mitchell had suffered from depression since early retirement from the civil service aged 57 and had attempted suicide more than a decade ago.
The inquest heard his wife and daughter were often worried he would repeat the attempt.
Mr Mitchell, who was on anti-depressant drugs, had suffered a breakdown last summer and had "attacked" his son.
His mental state had temporarily improved following a course of electroconvulsive therapy in August last year, a "last resort" for patients who were not benefiting sufficiently from their medication, but his depression had returned by Christmas.
Assistant deputy coroner Christopher Sutton Mattocks returned a verdict of suicide.