Page last updated at 17:52 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Negotiator tells of jump ordeal

Shaun Dykes
Shaun was worried about exams and low after a relationship break-up

A police negotiator told a Derby inquest how he tried to talk a teenager down from a car park roof while onlookers goaded him to jump.

Shaun Dykes, 17, from Kilburn, Derbyshire, died in a fall from the sixth-floor roof of the Westfield shopping centre in September 2008.

Assistant deputy coroner Louise Pinder recorded a verdict of suicide.

Det Insp Barry Thacker said people yelled "jump" and "get on with it" as he tried to talk Shaun down.

He said the shouts from the crowd distracted Shaun and him on a number of occasions.

The city lost its humanity for a period of time that day
Divisional Commander Andy Hough

Mr Thacker said as he approached Shaun, who was sitting on a ledge overlooking London Road, the teenager told him: "You can talk to me, but you won't change my mind."

At one point the negotiator stretched his arms out to Shaun to try to persuade him to come away from the ledge to talk things over.

But as Shaun bent down to take his hand, a voice from the crowd shouted: "You're wasting taxpayers' money," the inquest was told.

The teenager then pulled back from the officer, saying: "No, it's gone too far." A short time later he jumped, Mr Thacker said.

Asked by Ms Pinder whether he thought the abuse contributed to Shaun's decision to jump, Mr Thacker said: "It certainly made negotiations more difficult.

"I knew Shaun for almost two hours. Shaun came over to me as very likeable and having a good future."

The inquest heard that on the day Shaun died he was seen in a distressed state.

After writing a series of letters, he took a bus to Derby. His mother found the letters and rang her son, pleading with him to come home.

The individuals who were taunting Shaun at that time, whose identities remain unknown, are responsible, at least in part, for his death
Assistant deputy coroner Louise Pinder

But she heard nothing until she was contacted by police informing her that Shaun had killed himself.

Police Divisional Commander Andy Hough told the inquest: "The city lost its humanity for a period of time that day."

Earlier Shaun's mother Tina told the hearing her son felt under pressure because his GCSEs were approaching.

He had suffered from depression and had split from his partner five days before he killed himself.

After recording the verdict Ms Pinder attacked the teenager's tormentors.

"I am quite sure police officers were taken by surprise by the despicable people taunting Shaun," she said.

"It's inconceivable that, whilst negotiators were talking with Shaun, these mindless people were behaving with such insensitivity and without any apparent concern for a human being's safety."

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A teenager was encouraged to jump to his death in Derby by onlookers, an inquest has heard.



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