Suicide of ex-convict facing child sex offence allegations

The inquest was held at Centenary House in Crawley. Photo: Google Street View
The inquest was held at Centenary House in Crawley. Photo: Google Street View

An ex-convict who was struggling with his mental health took his own life at a railway crossing last year, an inquest concluded on Tuesday.

Jason Alun Walker, formerly known as Jason Asthana, of Burton Court, Park Way, Horsham, was 38 when he died at Spooners Foot Crossing near Littlehaven on August 29 last year.

An inquest at the West Sussex coroner’s court in Crawley heard Mr Walker had been diagnosed with a number of mental health issues since his release from prison and was facing further criminal investigation.

The court heard that after his release Mr Walker had been arrested although charges were not specified.

After the inquest, Sussex Police confirmed Mr Walker had been arrested in August 2018 on suspicion of child sex offences, and was under investigation at the time of his death.

In a statement read to the coroner’s court, medical practitioners at Sussex NHS Partnership Trust said that Mr Walker had sought help for suicidal thoughts and had been diagnosed with depression and OCD.

He was also told he would receive psychotherapy for trauma, although this promised ‘trauma stabilisation work’ was not delivered. The statement added that ‘although troubled regarding his conviction’ Mr Walker appeared insightful and made contact with mental health services.

It added that throughout his referral, Mr Walker had maintained that he ‘had done nothing wrong’ and ‘felt he had been wrongfully imprisoned’.

His mother, who attended the inquest, said that he had confided to her before that he was struggling with suicidal thoughts.

She said: “I feel that the health people let him down, mentally, but I also do know that he had a very good way of convincing people that he wasn’t a risk.”

She said her son had requested when he was arrested that he be remanded in custody and she thought he wouldn’t have been able to face the ‘possible results of the investigation’.

She added: “Both of his sons have said there’s only one question they wanted to ask but nobody can answer: Why have you ruined our lives and why did he have to do it on that day?”

The court heard from Abigail Lewis, a coroner’s inquiry co-ordinator for British Transport Police, that recommendations had been made to Network Rail regarding the safety of the crossing. She said: “They did feel that ideally the crossing should be closed or it should be made more pedestrian friendly.”

Measures proposed include removing the step at the crossing. White warning lines around the crossing could be made more visible, the angle of the crossing changed to make it shorter and the fencing improved.

She added that messages to family members on the day and other written evidence supported the view from police that the death was not suspicious.

Assistant coroner for West Sussex, James Healey-Pratt gave a conclusion of suicide.

He said: “What is clear to this court is that Jason was not a well person. He had spent some time in prison and he had come out of prison and seemingly he had difficulty transitioning back into civilian life, in the face of further criminal prosecution.”

He said the absence of the promised psychotherapy was noted, although it was impossible to say conclusively whether it could have prevented Mr Walker’s death.