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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Student's suicide after overdraft
Geraint Banks-Wilkinson
Geraint Banks-Wilkinson was found dead in January this year
Parents of a student who hanged himself days after his overdraft was withdrawn have criticised his bank following an inquest into his death.

Swansea Institute computer student Geraint Banks-Wilkinson, 20, from Nantymoel, was found with a cord around his neck at his digs on 13 January.

Two days earlier, he broke down in tears at his parents' home after visiting the Bridgend branch of HSBC.

Coroner Philip Rogers recorded a suicide verdict at the Swansea inquest.

Speaking after the hearing at the city's County Hall, Mr Banks-Wilkinson's father, Geoff, a prison officer, said of the bank: "The way they treated him was appalling."

"They were hounding us when they could not get hold of him.

"He was not afraid of a bit of work and was doing his studies as well, but could not do everything."

Mr Banks-Wilkinson's mother, Marion, also criticised the bank.

Geoff and Marion Banks-Wilkinson
Mr Banks-Wilkinson's parents criticised HSBC

She said: It was not being able to get hold of the right people.

"There was one department phoning our house and when he went to the branch it was a completely different thing.

"You can't get hold of anyone to take ownership and I think that's one of the things that was so frustrating for him.

"He couldn't get anyone who could tell him they could actually make a decision."

A statement from HSBC read: "HSBC again offers its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Geraint Banks-Wilkinson. HSBC has not as yet had an opportunity to review the coroner's findings and as such cannot comment on them specifically.

"Further, privacy legislation prohibits a bank from discussing the details of its customers' accounts, and we certainly would not want to intrude upon the family's grief."

The bank said it recognised how losing control of debt was "enormously stressful."

"At HSBC we make every possible effort to reach customers the moment we begin to see signs of financial difficulty," said a spokesman. "Not to do so would be irresponsible."

Earlier, the inquest had heard that Mr Banks-Wilkinson had a job at the Fabian Way branch of McDonald's but had problems with money.

Throughout December 2005, HSBC had tried to contact him almost every day and telephoned his parents at their home. the court heard.

Over the Christmas period, a student loan was paid into his HSBC account, paying off most of his 1,200 overdraft.

The computer design student then discovered the bank was closing his overdraft and on 11 January he was driven by his mother, who worked for a different bank, to his home branch in Bridgend.

"When he came back, basically he sat in the car, put his head in his hands and sobbed," Mrs Banks-Wilkinson told the coroner.

"He said 'They can't help me'."

'Struggle'

Mrs Banks-Wilkinson said that she was able to calm her son down over a cup of tea and cheered him up by discussing options available.

"It was a real shock to him that the overdraft had been withdrawn," she said.

"We all knew it was a struggle surviving as a student - we could not help him as much as we would have liked because we earned too much to get statutory grants but not enough to give him much."

She said that later that day she drove him back to his student digs at Watkin Street in Swansea.

"I would not have taken him back to Swansea if I was not convinced that he was going to be OK," she said.

Self-harm

The following day, Mr Banks-Wilkinson went to work as normal and that night went out to socialise with colleagues from McDonald's.

On 13 January a flatmate discovered Mr Banks-Wilkinson hanging from a beam in their bathroom.

A post mortem examination found the cause of death was hanging.

The inquest heard that Mr Banks-Wilkinson had a history of depression and around the time of his GCSEs he had self-harmed.

He had been prescribed anti-depressants in the past but it was unclear if was still on medication at the time of his death.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Coroner Philip Rogers said: "This is clearly a very sad case - the death of a young man with a promising future."


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"When his student loan of 1,000 went into his account, he was still overdrawn"



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