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Ramsgate: Michael Terraforte's death was misadventure, a coroner has ruled

By Katie Davis

The death of a gas engineer after locking himself in a van with a carbon monoxide generator was misadventure, a coroner has ruled.

Michael Terraforte, 33, had sent a photo to his wife, who he had split from months before, showing a monitor with a lethal reading, prompting a police search for him.

Coroner Ian Goldup today concluded that there was "insufficient evidence Mr Terraforte had meant to take his own life", despite accepting the pathologist's conclusion of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Michael Terraforte (2030540)
Michael Terraforte (2030540)

The day before Mr Terraforte was found dead, he and Mrs Terraforte, who had been together for 11 years, had argued over money.

The pair had split in September 2017 after a holiday which Mr Terraforte had decided to go on put a strain on the relationship.

They had two children together, whom he continued to see on weekends, after moving out to a different address.

Police had been called to a domestic incident report on Monday, December 18 in Ramsgate, where Mrs Terraforte lived with their children. Mr Terraforte had been around during the day, and later came back at about 4pm.

Mrs Terraforte said that her husband phoned her in an angry manner, threatening to damage property which belonged to her.

He also said he was going to "throw himself off a cliff."

Officers located Mr Terraforte, who assured them he did not want any help and was just getting stuff ready for work the next day.

Shortly after, at about 7.55pm that same evening, Mrs Terraforte called the police after receiving the photo of the carbon monoxide reading from Mr Terraforte.

Mr Terraforte's silver van was found by police on the morning of Tuesday, December 19 on a track alongside the A299 Thanet Way, between Monkton and the St Nicholas roundabout.

It was locked, and after checks by the fire service to ensure it was safe to enter, the vehicle was opened.

Emergency services found Mr Terraforte slumped in the van, with blood on his face.

He was then taken from the van, and CPR attempts were made before the ambulance service arrived, and Mr Terraforte was pronounced dead.

He had texted his ex, Mrs Terraforte, to say he was "gassing himself" and asking her to 'tell his kids he loved them".

Mr Terraforte's widow, Lauren, stated she "did not believe he meant to take his own life."

"I think it was a cry for help. If it wasn't, he wouldn't have sent me the image" - Mr Terraforte's widow Lauren

She said: "I think it was a cry for help. If it wasn't, he wouldn't have sent me the image."

Mrs Terraforte said he was generally "very laid back, not an angry person and very together."

She commented that his actions that day were "out of character".

It also emerged that police had made a mistake in tracking Mr Terraforte's phone.

The tracking was misread by a member of staff, sending officers searching in the wrong direction.

This mistake was not rectified for several hours, when another officer did a routine check and noticed the error.

A procedure error in requesting the tracker had also meant a delay of about 40 minutes the night Mr Terraforte was reported missing.

The coroner, however, said this would not have been a factor in his death.

Despite the gas reading in the vehicle, as recorded by the photo, being at a fatally high level, the coroner accepted Mrs Terraforte's view that it may have been a cry for help.

Coroner Ian Goldup therefore ruled that Mr Terraforte's death was by misadventure, at a hearing at Canterbury Magistrates Court.

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