Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bridgend deaths not all 'suicide'

Inquests into the deaths of five men in south Wales have found alcohol and drugs were factors in three cases.

A total of 17 young people from the Bridgend area are thought to have killed themselves since January last year.

Bridgend Coroner Philip Walters has held inquests into the deaths of Allyn Price, 21, Leigh Jenkins, 22, Jason Williams, 21, Andrew O'Neil, 19, and Gareth Morgan, 27.

All five men were found hanged.

However the coroner only recorded verdicts of suicide in connection with two of the deaths, as he found drugs or alcohol may have affected the men's judgement in the other cases.

Mr Walters earlier said he does not believe there are any links between all the deaths, and police have publicly ruled out suicide pacts among the victims and suggestions that internet sites played a part.

Mr Walters decided against recording a verdict of suicide on Allyn Price, 24, who was found hanging in the family garage in April last year.

His family were told at the inquest that he may have been under the influence of drugs at the time he died.

Mr Walters said there needed to be "definite intention" for a verdict of suicide.

Recording a short narrative verdict, he said: "But certainly there was nobody else directly involved in Allyn's death. I would accept what Dr Rees has said that the drugs could have affected his mood and judgment."

A separate inquest heard how Allyn's best friend killed himself just four weeks later.

Leigh Jenkins, 22, from Maesteg, South Wales, was found hanging from a window at a friend's flat, during the early hours of June 3 last year.

In a statement, Mr Jenkins' mother, Beverly, told the inquest her son was plagued by images of his friend's face during the last weeks of his life and had expressed a desire for them to "be together".

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict after hearing that Mr Jenkins was three times the drink-drive limit and had illegal amphetamines in his system when he died.

"Leigh Jenkins hung himself while under the influence of alcohol, MDMA and MDA and the cause of death is, as given, asphyxia due to a ligature around the neck," said Mr Walters.

Gareth Morgan, 27, of Heronstone Lane, Bridgend, was found hanging by his brother on January 5.

The inquest heard he was upset at recently splitting up with his girlfriend, and had sent her a text message saying he would see her in the next life.

The coroner said he would not use the word suicide because Mr Morgan had been drinking.

The level of alcohol in his blood was found to be two-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit.

Mr Walters said: "I am satisfied that the break-up of this relationship had some part to play in the situation generally."

Recording his verdict, he said: "Gareth has hanged himself under the influence of alcohol."

The inquest into the death of 20-year-old Andrew O'Neil heard he was being threatened over money before his suicide last September.

His sister Charlene told the court two boys had come looking for him and that one had threatened to shoot him.

Charlene and her mother found Andrew hanging at an empty house on Pembroke Terrace, Nantymoel.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Walters said he had "no doubt in my mind" that Andrew would have been affected by the threats he received.

"Whether they are the actual reason why he did what he did I cannot say," he added.

"But I am sure they did have some effect on him."

The coroner said there was no apparent reason why Jason Williams, 21, hanged himself in his garage on August 23 last year.

He was found by his fiancee at their home in North Cornelly, near Bridgend.

A post-mortem examination found traces of medication taken for back pain in the bloodstream of Mr Williams but nothing else which would have affected his judgment.

After recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Walters said: "Unfortunately this is one of those cases which I come across on a fairly regular basis where we can find, despite investigations by the police, no apparent reason why this event has occurred."

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Just a few who have either committed suicide or harmed others