A man under investigation by Thames Valley Police took his own life in Wiltshire just hours before he was due to answer bail, an inquest heard.
HM Assistant Coroner Ian Singleton ruled retired fundraiser Peter Davies’ death as suicide having heard that he deliberately laid his body on the line as a train approached – shortly after sending emails to family, friends and his church pastor.
The 71-year-old, of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and his wife Patricia Davies, had been staying with a friend in Trowbridge ahead of answer bail at Loddon Valley Police Station in Reading.
The inquest heard that Mr Davies had been arrested by Thames Valley Police for undisclosed offences on 18 August 2020. He was released due to concerns his blood pressure was too high, and he returned voluntarily the next day for an interview. Officers bailed him to return to the station a month later, on 16 September.
On 16 September, his friend Maureen drove him to Trowbridge Railway Station in the morning so he could catch his train to Reading. She had no concerns about his welfare but said that Mr Davies had concerns he would be remanded in custody. She said he had purchased a single ticket for his trip.
Before leaving the house he had told his wife he loved her and gave her a hug. In the days and hours ahead of his requirement to attend the police station, he was said to be happy and smiling, and the allegations were not mentioned.
Shortly after Maureen had arrived home – both she and Mrs Davies simultaneously received an email from Mr Davies. The contents of which sent them both into “a state of panic”. They immediately reported their concerns to Wiltshire Police before monitoring the local media.
A short time later, they read on the Great Western Railway Twitter profile that emergency services were dealing with an incident and trains had been stopped. They knew at that stage it was likely to be Mr Davies and were later visited by a police officer who broke the news to them.
Mr Davies told officers at Thames Valley Police he suffered from depression and disclosed that he had attempted to take his own life on the railway three months earlier, but couldn’t go through with it.
The force had received authorisation for an extension of bail, meaning he did not need to attend the station on 16 September. The inquest heard that the police and his solicitor attempted to inform him of this change, but they were unable to find any contact details for him.
Philip Rissington was driving a Great Western Railway train out of Trowbridge towards Westbury, that day. Travelling at 70mph along the tracks, it was a clear, bright and warm day.
Mr Rissington spotted a male stood approximately 100 metres ahead of him at the side of the tracks on the White Horse Foot Crossing, northeast of North Bradley. He sounded his horn to make him aware of his presence believing he was waiting to cross the line. No acknowledgement was received.
But events took a dramatic turn as Mr Davies stepped out towards the tracks and dropped to his knees, before laying his upper body on the nearside rail.
“I immediately put the brakes into full emergency and sounded horn continuously but nothing I could do would stop the train in just a short distance”, Mr Rissington said.
He continued: “I turned my head away at the last second so I did not see the impact.
“I am of the firm opinion that the male’s actions were intentional.”
Emergency services were called to the scene, where a paramedic pronounced life extinct at 12pm.
British Transport Police sergeant James Lynch was called to the incident from his base in Bristol. He recovered an A4 piece of paper from Mr Davies’ body which had his name and next of kin written on it.
John Wilson, a coroner’s investigation officer based in Swansea, confirmed that CCTV on board the train tallied with the train driver’s account. He confirmed Mr Davies’ cause of death as being “multiple traumatic injuries”.
His GP, doctor Rebekah Ferrand of the Crickhowell Group Practice, told the inquest he deceased suffered from an unstable mood, for which he was medicated with a low dose of anti-depressant Sertraline. She described his mental health as stable. He also had glaucoma and was frightened about going blind.
Concluding, HM Assistant Coroner Ian Singleton recorded Mr Davies death as suicide. He died of multiple traumatic injuries sustained when he deliberately placed himself in the path of an oncoming train.
Mr Singleton refused a request by Wiltshire 999s to reveal the nature of the allegations Mr Davies faced. Thames Valley Police said they could not confirm the identity of someone who had been arrested but not charged.