Keen triathlete probably climbed out of moving train near Chippenham, says coroner (From This Is Wiltshire)
Keen triathlete probably climbed out of moving train near Chippenham, says coroner
Tom Edwards, 32, probably climbed out of a moving train after missing his stop and then fell to his death, a coroner said today.
Mr Edwards, from Chapel Street, Derry Hill, went missing after a night out in Swindon on June 28 last year and was found after a five-day search by friends, family and police ending on July 3.
He disappeared from Rudi’s bar in the town at around 10pm and the last people to see him were two on-duty police officers, who dropped him off at a bus stop by the Outlet Village in Swindon.
But when police scanned CCTV footage at Swindon railway station he was seen boarding the 11.21pm train to Bristol Temple Mead.
His body was found close to the railway line between Chippenham and Bath.
Mr Edwards, who worked as a financial analyst at Nationwide in Swindon, was not at work that day and made his way into Swindon to spend the evening with colleagues.
A toxicology report carried out after his death by pathologist Dr Laurence John, at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, tested the level of alcohol in his system.
It found 199 mg of alcohol per litre of blood and 284 mg of alcohol per litre of urine.
PC Stephen Forrest and his colleague PC James Mann dropped Mr Edwards off at the bus stop after seeing him trip running to catch the bus.
He said Mr Edwards was “coherent” in the car and was “chatty,” but Coroner David Ridley said it was more than likely alcohol was a contributing factor in his death.
Mr Edwards told his wife Dee he would be back at 10pm to 10.30pm that evening.
In the morning she waited for the first bus to come past Derry Hill, in case he was on it, before calling family members and the police.
Mr Edward's mum, Caroline Cox, said: “It was odd for Tom not to have contact with anyone, he always knew he could contact us if he was stuck with a lift.
“As soon as I was told I knew something was wrong. Straight away my immediate instinct was that something terrible had happened.”
Coroner David Ridley, who recorded a narrative verdict at Salisbury, said Mr Edwards intended to get off the train at Chippenham and when he missed his stop he climbed out of the window.
Mr Ridley said: “Tom boarded the service from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads that evening, boarding carriage E.
"His intention I’m satisfied was to get off at Chippenham and then to run home. He was a keen sportsman and enjoyed Ironman triathlon competitions.
“I have heard evidence that he did indicate that he had a habit of falling asleep on such occasions, on trains and buses.
"He did not get off at Chippenham station and I’m satisfied that on the balance of probabilities he realised he had missed a stop and then for whatever reason he climbed out of that train.
“There is no evidence before me to suggest that any of the doors on that train had suffered a failure in the door mechanism. That would have resulted in damage to the train doors and of course at a routine inspection no flaws were found with the train in that respect.
“That leads me to the only conclusion that Tom, who was a very agile individual, was able to climb with his slim build out of the window. He fell backwards out of that train tragically to his death.”
A statement from Mr Edwards family, issued by Wiltshire Police, said: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported us throughout.
"In particular we would like to thank the Wiltshire Search and Rescue Teams for their tireless effort and Detective Sergeant Phil Walker of Swindon CID for his care, consideration and professionalism throughout the investigation into Tom’s disappearance.
"Tom Edwards-Cox was small in stature but large in life. Tom was a devoted husband who always put family and friends first.
"He vigorously accepted every challenge in life with honesty, integrity and his ever present cheeky smile. All of our lives were enhanced by Tom.
"He left a lasting impression on all who met him either professionally, socially or in his sporting life.
"Tom will continue to live on in all our hearts and minds, a decent man we are all proud to call ‘our Tom.’
"We would now ask for our privacy to be respected."
Superintendent Gavin Williams said: “The Tom Edwards missing person investigation was a fast-paced and multi-faceted police operation which spanned a number of days in June and July 2013.
“It involved a large number of police officers, staff and colleagues from various partner agencies. In addition to this, there was a huge amount of public support and assistance from volunteers during the search phase of the investigation.
“The primary focus of the investigation was clearly to find Tom safe and well but, tragically, this was not the case and Tom’s body was located by officers close to railway tracks just outside Chippenham on July 3rd.
“Wiltshire Police made a mandatory referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following the missing person investigation.
"This is protocol where a death occurs following police contact and Tom had been seen by two on-duty officers the night he went missing.
“A major crime review was also commissioned by Wiltshire Police in order to quickly identify any lessons learnt.
“Wiltshire Police take the findings of this review very seriously. The review outlined some areas of improvement and changes have already been implemented as a result. Further learning has been incorporated accordingly.
“The IPCC passed the matter back to Wiltshire Police for a local investigation and the major crime review formed part of this.
“Tom’s family has been involved in this process and were given the review upon its completion.
“As with all major, fast-paced incidents, there are always lessons to learn and opportunities for future improvements.
“As a force, Wiltshire Police is always looking to utilise these opportunities and make sure that we develop the processes and investigative tactics we deploy.
“Finally, I would like to thank Tom’s family for their continued assistance with the work that has been undertaken by Wiltshire Police.
"Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.”