VOTE: Littlehampton dad killed at Lyminster level crossing

A LITTLEHAMPTON father who was facing bankruptcy tragically took his life.

Paul Harrop, 46, of Kent Road, was struck by a train and killed on the Lyminster level crossing last December 30.

At the inquest into his death held at Chichester Magistrates’ Court, last Wednesday (July 18), deputy coroner Martin Milward recorded the verdict Paul took his own life.

The court was told that, although separated, Paul was in regular contact with his wife, Sarah Harrop, and their three young children, who live in Fernhurst Road, Barnham.

Sarah told the court the couple had met in 2003, married in 2005, had children but separated in February 2011.

Sarah said: “He was physically healthy, but I know he was suffering with depression.

“He had done before I met him and it continued to be a problem after we were married.

“He was going to the doctors to get anti-depressants. But I do not know if he was taking them. I thought he was but now I am not so sure.

“The loss of our business and the debts we had as a result of that did affect him.

“He had been working in the Tesco store in Littlehampton since 2009 but he was still having financial problems from the collapse of the business. He was looking into declaring himself bankrupt.”

Paul’s last shift at Tesco had been from 10pm-7am on December 27.

Seemed happy

The court heard Sarah had last seen Paul on December 10, of last year.

“He had been staying with us and we went to a local quiz. He seemed his happy normal chirpy self.

“He was getting involved in the quiz and having a good time,” she said.

“I saw him on briefly on December 10 before he returned to his home in Littlehampton.

“After that I spoke to him on Christmas morning and he spoke to the children and he seemed happy and normal,” added Sarah.

Sarah received a text message from Paul asking if he could return to the family home.

She told the court she replied telling him he needed “to get his head sorted out before he could come back”.

She added: “Not long after that I had a phone call from his mother asking if she could please have Paul’s address as he had sent a text to her to say he had taken all his tablets.

“I gave her the address and told her to phone the police. I also phoned the police and they went around to check on Paul and he was okay.”

Sarah told the court her last contact with Paul was by a series of text messages sent from around 5.30pm on December 30.

They said: “I have left strict instructions for the boys – and my time has come”.

Verdict

Mr Milward said: “Given the evidence I have heard here today, there is sadly only one verdict I can give. I have come to the tragic conclusion that he took his own life and that will be my verdict.

“I pass on my condolences to Mr Harrop’s family and friends on their tragic loss and I hope that time will help you come to terms with this loss.”

Cause of death as being from multiple injuries was given.

In a statement to the Gazette, Sarah said: “I have tried to be as honest as I can with the children but it has been difficult. It has been a massive shock for all his family and friends. He was the sort of person that would do anything for anyone. He was a lovely man, and a caring husband. “Now it’s a case of moving forward and staying strong for the children’s sake.”

What do you think?

Should more be done to improve the safety of railway crossings in the Littlehampton area? Cast your vote in the poll to the right of the screen and leave your comments below.