Ex-Dartford teacher Nicholas Charrington fell to death from shopping centre, inquest hears (From News Shopper)
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Ex-Dartford teacher Nicholas Charrington fell to death from shopping centre, inquest hears
A FORMER Dartford school teacher from Bromley fell to his death from the top floor of a multi-storey shopping centre after wrongly believing he was wanted by police, an inquest heard.
Nicholas Charrington was a business studies teacher at Dartford Science and Technology College until December 2011.
According to his ex-wife Deborah, he believed he had been the subject of a "bullying campaign" for the past three to four years and left amid fears he was being forced out of his job.
On the morning of October 18 last year the 59-year-old, who had a history of severe mental health problems, drove his mother's red Ford Ka to the fifth floor of a shopping centre in Reading before falling to his death.
Yesterday (Feb 27) an inquest at Reading Coroners' Court heard how Mr Charrington, of Courtlands Avenue, Hayes, had told his daughter Natalie about an alleged plot days before he died.
"He believed people were working together in a network to bring him down, to bring out him out of his job and had resorted to much more extreme methods,” Miss Charrington told the court.
"They still had a desire to put him in a as a difficult position in his life as possible. He believed they wanted to see him irate.
"It meant having him arrested therefore he was out of the picture."
Miss Charrington went on to say he thought they were monitoring his every movement by tracking his mobile phone, and he would regularly check his email to find any evidence of this.
She added:"My father told me he would kill himself if he went to prison."
The last person to speak to Mr Charrington was his mother's carer, Fiona Duff, at shortly after 8am on October 18 last year.
He told her he had received a phone call from his solicitor informing him he was going to be arrested.
Mrs Duff, who had known Mr Charrington for a year but was unaware of any mental health problems, said he seemed "calm" and his "normal self" that morning.
After taking her advice to drive to the police station to prevent officers coming to his mum's home in Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire, he set on his way.
But just ten minutes later he returned having pranged the car on a kerb nearby. He checked the car before saying he was going to drive to Bromley to meet his solicitors before stopping by at the police station.
She asked him to text him when he arrived but she never received a message.
CCTV in the car park of the Oracle Shopping in Reading captured a red Ford Ka driving to the fifth floor at 10.10am.
A statement from PC Craig Woolnough, from Reading police station, who viewed CCTV footage, read: “The driver of the vehicle, a male, was seen exiting his vehicle, removing his jacket and walking towards too the top ramp with nobody else.
“The camera pans away and when it panned back the man could no longer be seen.
“On the ground floor a male suddenly appears.”
Eye witness account
An eye witness who was driving onto the second floor of the shopping centre described seeing a man falling "feet first, arms stretched out to the side" past the spiral ramp.
Emergency services were called to the scene to find Mr Charrington face down on the bottom floor. The first police officer at the scene tried CPR but it was too late.
Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford recorded an open verdict due to a “crucial gap in the evidence”.
He said: “We have him getting out of his car, falling and landing, but nothing in between.”
He expressed his sympathies to the family and added:"I do not believe there is evidence to say beyond all reasonable doubt that the explanation for Mr Charrington's death was that he acted to deliberately take his own life."
A post-mortem examination ruled the cause of death of multiple injuries including fractured skill, severe cuts to the heart, broken ribs and a fractured right ankle.
Mr Charrington had two daughters Natalie and Tiffany, and son Alex.
A toxicology report there was no trace of anti-psychotic drug Quetiapine, which he had been prescribed to combat his mental health problems.
No evidence of a suicide note was found at the scene but a solicitors letter, an address of his mother and next of kin were found in the car.
History of mental illness
Mr Charrington's consultant psychiatrist, Dr Adrian Lord, said he had a "history of severe depression and feelings of hopelessness and a sense he had no future".
He added: “In January 2012 he began to incorporate members of his family into his paranoia. He would hear their voices.
“He admitted he had suicidal thoughts but insisted he would never do anything for the sake of his family."
He began to show signs of recovery and left Dartford Science and Technology College in December 2011.
Dr Lord said: "I was very shocked and very saddened to hear of Mr Charrington's death.
“There may have been some intervening event that could have made Mr Charrington disturbed and distressed again."
His daughter said the decision try to sell their family home at the end of September where they had lived for the 23 years may have played a factor.
She told the court: "He was quite frantic to get everything organised, he wanted everything doing as quickly as possible."