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Mental patient killed himself on train track

PUBLISHED: 16:31 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:29 07 September 2010

A MAN from West Hampstead killed himself by lying across a railway track hours after being discharged by psychiatric staff at the Royal Free Hospital. Deng Wek Athian, of Brassey Road, took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed, coroner

A MAN from West Hampstead killed himself by lying across a railway track hours after being discharged by psychiatric staff at the Royal Free Hospital.

Deng Wek Athian, of Brassey Road, took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed, coroner Andrew Reid ruled on Tuesday (October 7).

The student, 25, died on the morning of February 14 when he was hit by a train approaching West Hampstead Thameslink station.

On the previous afternoon he had been taken to the Pond Street hospital by his sister and mother, who complained he was behaving strangely. He was discharged but taken back to the hospital around midnight when his behaviour became more erratic.

He was examined by Dr Pany Petrochilos in the early hours of February 14, but she found no reason to suspect he might harm himself or others, sending him home to get some sleep before coming back to meet a psychiatric liaison team at 9.30am, St Pancras Coroners Court heard this week.

But later that morning, when his family was getting ready to take him back to hospital, he escaped through the bathroom window, climbed over a high wall at the back of his home and down the embankment to the railway tracks, despite his mother's efforts to stop him.

Dr Petrochilos said: "When I saw him I was aware he had attended the previous day. The description given was one of a depressive state but that didn't seem to fit. I went through his history asking what was going on in his life."

She said the student was under pressure juggling his studies with a daily job and a lot of time spent travelling.

"He said he occasionally heard voices. They were rambling and a mix of male and female voices. He had been hearing them for several years on and off. I thought it could be schizophrenia," she said.

Dr Petrochilos told the court she expected Mr Athian, a former Hampstead School pupil, to return to hospital the following day because of his level of cooperation and engagement during the interview.

"The risk was very low," she said. "I sent him home because it was another five or six hours until his appointment and I thought the family could do with some sleep - they had had a long day."

The court heard how Mr Athian's family came to London from Sudan when he was a little boy and there was a history of mental illness on Mr Athian's father's side of the family. His mother Akuol Macar broke down in court when she recollected the moment she tried to stop her son scaling the wall at the back of their home.

His sister told the court she wondered if her younger brother would have been taken more seriously if he had been violent.

"I was the one who dialled 999," she said. "Our family had such hardship in Sudan and our father had passed away. My brother worked hard and did everything the right way.

"For him to behave like that I just knew straight away that something wasn't right with him. It was like he was looking for something under his bed and he kept saying, 'Is it real?' over and over.

"He would never have hurt anyone. This is my little brother. He was trying so hard to focus and say what was wrong.

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