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Depressed lecturer fell to his death

A PHILOSOPHY lecturer fought suicidal thoughts for years before climbing from his fourth floor window and dropping to his death, an inquest heard.

Devoted father of two John Bousfield suffered major depressive episodes since 1995.

He battled thoughts of taking his life for the sake of his grown-up children Faisal and Aisha, the hearing at Canterbury Magistrates' Court was told.

The University of Kent lecturer was pronounced dead at the scene after falling from his flat in Chaucer Court, off New Dover Road, just before 5pm on Friday, May 28. It was the day before his 56th birthday.

He had suffered multiple injuries including a fractured skull. A known heavy drinker of about five pints a day, tests showed Mr Bousfield had 154mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

The Religious Studies and Philosophy lecturer had been on the university staff for 29 years, but after mounting mental health problems, his marriage breakdown and a subsequent failed relationship, worried he was no longer capable at work and would be forced to take early retirement.

He admitted to mental health staff he could not cope with his workload and was spending time drinking at the Student Union bar rather than working.

Early in 2004 Mr Bousfield was admitted to St Martin's psychiatric hospital, and discharged in March when he had seemed to make some improvement.

He remained as an outpatient of the hospital and agreed a plan to combat his suicidal thoughts, which included attending Amber Ward as a day patient and 24-hour phone support.

On the day he died he had lunch at the hospital and left at about 3.30pm.

Neighbour Margaret Seagrave looked out of her window towards Mr Bousfield's flat as he was already falling. She saw him land on the ground and called the police.

Officers found Mr Bousfield's bedroom door shut and a small table pulled up to the open window with a foot mark on it.

Fingerprint evidence showed Mr Bousfield had held on to the lower ledge of the window from the outside and the grip was suddenly released.

Daughter Aisha Bousfield, of Mandeville Road, said her father spoke to her about his suicidal thoughts for the first time on May 26, which was unusual, and she alerted the ward at St Martin's Hospital.

She said: "I felt that a day plan was not necessarily enough for him. I made them aware on the phone what he'd said to me. I didn't feel it was picked up with real seriousness."

Coroner Rebecca Cobb recorded a verdict that Mr Bousfield took his own life.

She said: "I have noted what family members' concerns have been but there is nothing to indicate to me that there was neglect in the treatment of Mr Bousfield."

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