Care Assistant ‘Lay In Front Of Train’

A care assistant who killed himself by lying down in front of a high-speed train was being investigated by the police and had just been sacked from his job after admitting “serious” allegations, an inquest has heard.

The Norwich hearing was also told how Jeremy Watts, 46, “slowly and deliberately” lay on the line at Swainsthorpe before glancing up at the driver of the 100mph train hurtling towards him.

Driver Gary Johnson said in a statement that he had no time to do anything but slam on the emergency brakes and the train did not stop for another quarter of a mile down the track.

Mr Watts, a care assistant at Hellesdon mental health hospital, was declared dead at the scene about 100 yards south of Swainsthorpe level crossing. A jury returned a verdict of suicide after hearing that Mr Watts, of Romany Road, Norwich, had been admitted to hospital himself with a mental breakdown following his dismissal from work and had been self-harming.

The nature of the allegations was not disclosed at the inquest which heard only that police were involved and the matters did not involve patients or dishonesty on Mr Watts’s part.

But a Norfolk police spokesman said last night that officers arrested a 46-year-old Norwich man on suspicion of harassment last October. He was questioned and released on bail pending a full investigation. Mr Watts worked at Hellesdon Hospital from 1998.

Ian Young, city manager for the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust, said there were no concerns generally over his work until “certain matters” came to light which resulted in police involvement.

The inquest heard Mr Watts admitted the allegations and was suspended on October 20 last year while investigations were carried out. He was admitted to hospital with mental health problems twice over the next few weeks and was in the care of professionals. But he discharged himself from their care when he was due for a patient review on November 14.

On November 23, he failed to turn up for a work disciplinary hearing and the decision was made in his absence to sack him, though a letter was never sent out. Two days later, he killed himself.

Mr Johnson, who was driving the 7.30am Norwich-London train for One, said he had just crossed Swainsthorpe level crossing when he saw an “unusual” movement on the left and expected a deer to run out before seeing someone lie down on the track.

A spokesman for Mr Watts’s family told the inquest: “The family would like to express concern for the train driver and the fact he had to have such a painful experience.”