Man sought help before falling from bridge

By Tim Clarke Wednesday 05 December 2012 Updated: 05/12 12:06

A MAN sought help from mental health staff just minutes before falling to his death from a city centre footbridge.

Christopher Handley, 42, plunged from the bridge over City Walls Road on Tuesday, August 7 this year and later died from multiple injuries sustained from the fall at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

An inquest into his death on Tuesday (December 4) heard how the Dines Green resident had visited the nearby Studdert Kennedy House shortly before his death to seek help from mental health workers based at the centre.

He refused to speak to a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) who went to find another support worker but Mr Handley disappeared from outside the centre and a short while later he was seen falling from the bridge.

The inquest heard how Mr Handley's death came just three days after he had been arrested on a charge of grievous bodily harm. While he was in custody he was visited by forensic medical examiner Doctor Kelvin Laidlaw who was told by Mr Handley he suffered with several health problems including Tourette's, anxiety, depression and 'mild' diabetes.

He also noticed three scratch marks on his left wrist which Mr Handley admitted inflicting on himself three days earlier.

Dr Laidlaw said he was "clearly distressed" by the criminal allegations and the concerns over his welfare were picked up on by duty solicitor Paul Stanley and custody officer Ronald Wyatt.

He was moved to another cell where he was kept under close observation before being bailed to return to Worcester Crown Court in November.

As part of his bail conditions he went to stay with friend Ricky Gorman in Barbourne who helped take care of him.

Mr Gorman said Mr Handley was upset the whole time he was with him and that he missed his flat and pet dog.

On the day of his death he turned up at Studdert Kennedy House and spoke to admin supervisor Victoria Harper outside the centre, telling her "he did not want to go on" and "he didn't want to go to prison for eight years."

She sought assistance from CPN Greg Dyett but Mr Handley refused to speak to him saying he had "issues" with his team leader Dr Richard Crellin, a consultant psychiatrist who had been seeing him for the past ten years.

Mr Dyett told him to come inside the centre but while he went to get support Mr Handley disappeared.

A short while later at about 3pm Mr Gorman was driving along City Walls Road when he noticed Mr Handley standing on the bridge.

Mr Gorman told the inquest he shouted at him but he did not respond and then watched Mr Handley jump from the bridge.

He was still conscious when he was tended to by paramedics but died at about 3.30pm at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Coroner Geraint Williams recorded an open verdict and explained to his parents Carol and Thomas Handley that he could not be certain their son had intended to take his own life.

"I don't know what was happening in your son's mind when he climbed the railings and whether he meant to let go or whether it was his Tourette's," he said.

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