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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2008 17:22 UK
Derby's 'public execution'

Shaun Dykes
Trained police negotiators spent three hours talking to Shaun Dykes
Seventeen-year-old Shaun Dykes killed himself by leaping from a multi-story car park in Derby city centre.

Tragically, teenage suicides are not unusual, but what made the case of Shaun Dykes so shocking was that he was allegedly heckled and even goaded by members of a crowd gathered at the scene during the three-hour ordeal on Saturday, 27 September.

The crowd comprised a wide range of ages.

Today Programme reporter Andrew Hosken visited Derby to try and piece together events which led to Shaun's death.

'Public execution'

Alasdair Kay, director of the Derby City Mission, witnessed much of what happened that day and told Today: "I was shopping with my family and couldn't work out why it was taking so long to get out of the car park... (but) as soon as I came out I saw a young lad at the top of the parapet at the shopping centre."

He likened the scene to that of a "public execution".

"People were filming… we could hear people shouting "jump you…" followed by a stream of expletives.

They weren't all just young people, some were middle-aged. To be honest with you I was sickened."

Also in the multi-story car park was Haley Mackay and her team of valets washing cars. She said: "I saw him up there but didn't see him fall."

Asked whether she heard the goading she said yes and called it "disgusting" and "wrong". But she also said the police must take some of the responsibility for what happened that day. She said they "could have cordoned it off further up the road, so that the crowd would not be there."

It has since been claimed onlookers took photographs of Shaun's body after he had thrown himself off the building.

Mysterious motive

But who was Shaun Dykes, the vulnerable young lad who faced such goading?

He was raised in a village not far from Derby, his parents had long separated and his mother had recently split from her boyfriend.

After dropping out of a recent business course he had returned to school to study his AS levels and dreamt of becoming an accountant or a pilot.

He also worked part-time at his local pub in his home village of Kilburn.

On the night before he died he did his usual shift alongside Craig Doxey, a fellow waiter and his best friend.

People were filming… we could hear people shouting "jump you…" followed by a stream of expletives
Alasdair Kay - Derby City Mission
Craig found time during another shift to speak about his friend. "He was always smiling and laughing about stuff. I think if it wasn't for the crowd, Shaun would have got down and got some help from all his mates, work colleagues and the police."

One of Shaun's school friends, Rebkha Minkley, added: "He was the best person anyone could have asked to meet. He always came in, in the morning with a smile on his face."

Not only can Rebkha not come to terms with the death of her friend, but she does not understand how people could have got a thrill over watching him die.

"To be up there in the state he was in, and then for people to tell him to jump, it made me feel sick... I can't cope with it."

Suicide note

Shaun went to school at Heanor Gate Science College, eight miles from Derby, situated in a largely white, working-class area. He was openly gay and considered to be a "breath of fresh air", despite a troubled home life.

Rob Howard, the school's head teacher, said: "I feel very angry that there are people out there who are so desensitised to life that they just see it as a film or a soap opera. I don't think they realise what the consequences of their actions are going to be, but it is clearly disturbing."

Apparently Shaun Dykes left a suicide note.

It is likely that he was badly affected by the breakdown of an important relationship.

But perhaps the reasons for his death are less important than what it revealed about the nature of a handful of ordinary men and women on a bright Saturday afternoon in England.


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