Severely depressed’ man falls to death after job loss — (Newbury News)

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Newbury News

Thursday, 14th Mar 2013

Reporter: John Garvey Chief Reporter  Email:

A CHARTERED accountant who was “ severely depressed” after losing his job, fell to his death from the A34 bridge in Newbury.

An inquest in the town hall yesterday (Wednesday) heard that 52-two-year-old Alexander Douglas Muir, known as Douglas, was behaving in a “bizarre manner” on the wrong side of the safety railings at the Enborne Street flyover.

He was spotted, moments later, falling to his death on November 23 last year.

Mr Muir’s widow, accompanied to the hearing by a rector from St Nicolas Church in Newbury, Rev William Hunter Smart, said that her husband, with whom she lived at The Grange, Newbury, had been made redundant from his job nine months before the tragedy.

She described how, over the ensuing months, Mr Muir had become increasingly anxious and distressed, seeking help from Newbury GP Dr Bruce Letham and being prescribed anti-depressants.

Mrs Muir accompanied her husband to the surgery on the morning he died, the inquest heard, becoming alarmed when she returned from a swim to discover his grey Audi missing from the driveway and alerting family friend Sharon Coward.

It was Ms Coward, the inquest heard, who came upon the scene of the tragedy and accompanied officers back to The Grange to break the news.

Car passenger Robert Sinclair said in a statement how he was travelling along the A34 around 11.50am when he saw a man falling from the bridge, causing his fiancee, who was driving, to swerve.

Lorry driver Stephen Mansell said he noticed a grey Audi parked near the bridge and then saw a man climb the railings.

He added: “I stopped quickly but he was gone; I ran to the side of the bridge and looked over. I saw a man lying in the road.”

Witness Ashley March reported seeing man “hanging from the railings” seconds before the tragedy while another, Richard O’Sullivan, said: “I saw a man climbing over the barrier….he was acting in a bizarre manner, standing up and ducking down while looking down at the traffic. As we went under the bridge I couldn’t see him.”

Post mortem tests revealed Mr Muir died from multiple injuries.

Dr Letham said Mr Muir had “deteriorated significantly” in the weeks before his death, despite strong support from his wife and friends.

He added that his patient was taking time off from church duties and suffering from “severe depression.”

Assistant deputy Berkshire coroner Ashley Fegan-Earl said: “I’m not sure there’s sufficient evidence to definitely say he took his own life….while there’s good witness evidence that he was on the wrong side of the railings it isn’t clear that he was seen to deliberately jump or whether, indeed, he might have slipped.”

Recording an open verdict, he told Mrs Muir: “It’s abundantly clear that you, your family and friends gave all the support you possibly could.

“I’ve no doubt you have many happy memories of Douglas you will cherish.”