Open verdict after railway line death

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A 20-YEAR-OLD man had drunk a significant amount of alcohol before he was killed by a train in the early hours of the morning, an inquest has heard.

Steven Lawson, who lived in Bamburgh Drive, Pegswood, was hit by the freight train at Pegswood Station at 2.25am on Tuesday, June 22 last year.

The driver of the train, which had been travelling at 60mph and was unable to stop in time, reported seeing him lying down curled up between the rails next to the platform.

A post-mortem discovered that he had drunk the equivalent of six pints of beer and north Northumberland coroner Tony Brown recorded an open verdict stating that it was difficult to know if Mr Lawson had made a ‘settled intention’ to take his own life.

The evening before his death, he had made indications to his friend Stephen Davies that he may harm himself but Mr Davies believed it was due to the amount of alcohol he had drunk.

Mr Brown said he felt that Mr Lawson’s comments were “more of a cry for help than something he had seriously considered”.

On Monday, June 21, Mr Lawson had seen his mother Joanne Thompson at 7.30am when he seemed happy.

But she had also spoken to him on the phone later on at 6pm when he suggested that he might harm himself, although said he would be fine.

Later that evening, at 9pm, his friend Mr Davies came to his flat in Bamburgh Drive for drinks and they then went on to Pegswood Social Club,

There Mr Lawson said that he had taken pills that morning in an attempt to harm himself.

After leaving at 11pm, Mr Davies also received two texts from him suggesting that he might harm himself, but on both occasions Mr Davies put this down to the amount of alcohol Mr Lawson had to drink.

In returning his open verdict Mr Brown said: “I need to decide if Steven had taken a settled decision to take his own life.

“The difficulty is that it is rather ambiguous whether Steven did form such an intention and then took alcohol to make it easier for him to take his life or whether he was in an emotionally-disturbed state and then took a decision that in the normal cold light of day, he never would have taken.

“I take the view that the odd comments he made were more of a cry for help than something he had seriously considered.

“As I would be required to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt before I give a verdict of suicide, I’m going to give an open verdict.”

He added that he felt Mr Lawson had some positive side to his life, character and past achievements and offered his ‘very sincere condolences’ to the family.