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Inquest hears struggle with mental health lead to death of Leon Coulthard, from Dartford

A man who struggled to fight his "demons" and believed he had special powers threw himself onto a railway line, an inquest heard.

Leon Coulthard, who was 31, unemployed, and from Dartford, died after being hit by a freight train at Dartford station early on the morning of May 2.

He was confirmed dead by paramedics at the scene at 7.17am.

Leon Coulthard and friend James O'Connell
Leon Coulthard and friend James O'Connell

British Transport Police also attended and, at an inquest into his death yesterday, Detective Constable Paula Bennett told how Mr Coulthard’s body was spotted on the track by the driver of the 6.02 service to London Charing Cross as it approached Dartford.

The hearing at Gravesend’s Old Town Hall heard Mr Coulthard had a history of mental health issues, which required medication, and he had expressed suicidal thoughts on multiple occasions.

He suffered from extreme paranoia, which often manifested itself in visions, voices inside his head, and he insisted to psychiatrists that he had special powers and had seen glimpses into his future.

"Mental health is still a taboo, they didn’t know what was going on inside Leon’s head" - James O'Connell

Dr Kemi Mateola, from the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, interviewed and prescribed medication to Mr Coulthard during his treatment.

She told the inquest about his long-term battle with his illness, which drove him to alcohol, smoking cannabis, magic mushrooms and ecstasy. In November 2014, he was handed a six-year driving ban for drink driving.

A previous attempt to take his own life saw him stab himself in the stomach on February 1 of this year. He was taken to hospital and placed under section two of the Mental Health Act.

However, during a conversation with Dr Mateola on April 27, he said the quality of his life had improved and he was back in contact with his sister and mother, who was present at the inquest.

Other members of his family and friends took to social media at the time of his death to pay tribute to a man “with the biggest heart”.

Speaking to KentOnline back in May, one friend, James O’Connell, said: “Leon was depressed and he had demons he just couldn’t fight.

Stone Crossing railway station. Picture: Steve Crispe
Stone Crossing railway station. Picture: Steve Crispe

“If Leon had lung cancer or some other physical illness, there would have been more people around him. But because it’s something people don’t really understand he didn’t get the support he needed.

“Mental health is still a taboo, they didn’t know what was going on inside Leon’s head.”

A postmortem established Mr Coulthard died of multiple injuries.

At the conclusion of Mr Coulthard’s inquest, coroner Roger Hatch said: “It is clear to me that he did have a history of mental health difficulties, for which he was receiving care and treatment.

“He had threatened to take his own life and I am satisfied that it was the intention of Mr Coulthard to take his own life. I am left with no choice but to record his death as suicide.”

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