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Taunts 'did not lead to man's death' at Telford's Southwater car park

Telford | News | Published:

Alleged shouts by passers-by urging a man to jump from the roof of Telford's Southwater car park did not contribute to his death, a coroner has ruled.

Father-of-two Ian Lam, 42, of Dean Close, Priorslee, Telford, died after falling from the top of the car park in March.

At the time, reports from police and on social media sites suggested that someone on the ground had shouted for Mr Lam to jump, as he was sitting precariously on the edge at the top of the multi-storey.

At an inquest in Wellington yesterday, Mr John Ellery, coroner for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, returned a narrative conclusion, saying Mr Lam, who suffered from epilepsy, had been in a "trance-like state" and did not know what he was doing when he fell to his death.

Mr Lam had been sitting precariously 120ft above ground for about two hours on Saturday, March 14.

Mr Ellery found that Mr Lam did not commit suicide. He also ruled that an alleged shout of "jump" from someone on the ground about an hour before the fall had not contributed to what happened.

The inquest heard that Mr Lam had called 999 at 12.55pm on the Saturday, saying: "I am at the Telford Southwater car park. I do not know how I got here. I am on the top floor of the multi-storey.

"I am on the edge of the wall and facing the shopping centre."

The husband and father of two children, aged nine and six, suffered from epilepsy. According to a statement from his wife, Mary, read out in court, he would sometimes go into a "trance-like state" while awake following fits. He would not know what he was doing and no one could get through to him, the statement added.

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Mr Lam had been in a Telford Town Centre bank. Mr Ellery said he had gone into a "trance-like state" sometime between leaving the bank and reaching the car park and "he did not know why he was there, how he got there or what he was doing".

Pc Mark Tomlin, who approached Mr Lam at top of the building following the 999 call, said: "I formed the opinion early on he was obviously not in the right state of mind. He did not appear suicidal, more confused."

Detective Sergeant David Meyer, hostage and crisis negotiator, who joined Pc Tomlin, told the inquest: "He was visually distressed and his eyes were tearful. He did not engage with me at any time. At 3.30pm I was talking to him and he made a deliberate forward movement. He slipped off the parapet. There were no warning signs. I was in shock."

Detective Sergeant Craig Smith said no one else had been involved and an IPCC investigation found no police officer was at fault.

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He said it was unknown how Mr Lam had got on to the ledge but believed he used the metal edge of the car park to pull himself up.

Afterwards, there had been suggestions an onlooker from the ground had goaded Mr Lam to jump.

Mr Ellery said he did not think Mr Lam heard it, and even if he had it would have meant nothing to him and happened an hour before the fall.

"In terms of what caused him to move forward and slip off the parapet, I pay no regard to what may or may not have been said," he added.

The Lam family were due to go on holiday in April and Mr Lam had seen a doctor for some reassurance about his condition just two days before his death. GP Dr Philip Lee said his patient did not appear suicidal and was looking forward to the future.

Mr Ellery recorded a narrative verdict saying Mr Lam died from falling to the ground when in a trance-like state. The cause of death was multiple injuries.

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