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Joke texts ‘led window cleaner to kill himself’
12:00pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
A MAN killed himself by stepping in front of a train following a series of text messages sent by a friend posing as a former lover.
An inquest heard how married man Jeremy Brown, of Windmeres, Evesham, confided in Grant Owen, a friend of 12 years, last March about an affair he had ended after his wife Sarah found out.
However, in early September Mr Owen and a friend sent Mr Brown a number of messages posing as the married woman while under the influence of alcohol.
The texts haunted Mr Brown, a self-employed window cleaner.
He died after being struck by the 11.21 London Paddington to Great Malvern train on the Littleton and Badsey level crossing, near Evesham, at about 1.10pm on Friday, September 14,.
Giving evidence, Mrs Brown said the affair was over by the end of April and the couple had been working on their relationship and August had been a “really good” month but the texts from Mr Owen sent him “downhill”. She added: “He would cry himself to sleep.
He frantically tried to find out where they came from.”
Mr Owen, who bought a new sim card to send the messages, called it a “childish prank”.
He added: “I thought if he could not get in contact with that number he would realise it was us messing about. I was expecting a call from him and never got it.
“In hindsight I probably should have let him know.”
Mr Brown had made two previous attempts to take his own life and wrote suicide notes, as well as speaking openly to his wife about killing himself, saying he would have to use a train for his next attempt.
Worcestershire's deputy coroner Marguerite Elcock said Mr Owen’s actions were not those of a friend and were “at the very least remarkably juvenile”.
Witnesses reported seeing the 38-year-old step out calmly in front of the train in a deliberate act.
Train driver Peter Allen said the train was travelling at the speed limit of 75mph when he saw Mr Brown at a distance of about 200 yards.
Although he sounded the horn several times and applied the brake, Mr Brown stood unmoved with his back to the locomotive.
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Brown said: “He was loved and will be missed by all the family and friends.”
A post-mortem test showed Mr Brown suffered multiple injuries and massive cerebral trauma but he had not been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A jury returned a verdict of suicide.