Depression led engineer to throw himself off a cliff

First published in News by , Senior Reporter

A DEPRESSED dad threw himself to his death at Beachy Head just weeks after he had been found at the notorious suicide spot.

Just two months before he killed himself 54-year-old Alistair Smith had been found wandering at Sussex location and had been taken into police custody for his own protection.

His landlady Janice Bridgen told the inquest hearing at Alton: “He was just waiting for an opportunity. We were all watching him. But we couldn’t watch him all the time.”

A police appeal for information about his whereabouts was issued after Mr Smith went missing from the home where he was lodging in Wallis Road, Fairfields, Basingstoke, on March 2 but his body was found by coastguards on March 6.

Mr Smith, who formerly lived in Wells, Somerset , worked as a principal software engineer. The inquest heard he did some work for the Ministry of Defence, and had more than £200,000 in the bank when he died.

North East Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley said Mr Smith had suffered from depression after his marriage ended 15 years ago, and he heard that he had been particularly depressed in the months leading up to his death.

His brother Rupert Smith said Mr Smith had been despondent over the Christ-mas period and said his mood worsened after a car crash on January 3 when he crashed into a legally parked HGV on the A505 in Duxford, Cam-bridgeshire.

He said: “He was terrified he would be charged with dangerous driving and would lose the security clearance for his MoD work. He was completely preoccupied with it.”

However, PC Andrew Moss said Mr Smith was only ever at risk of being charged with the lesser charge of driving without due care and attention. He told the inquest: “In hindsight, I believe it (the crash) was intentional”, explaining there were no skidmarks in the vicinity of the crash and that his car had hit the HGV squarely on.

Mr Smith’s son Rory Smith said he found it hard to communicate properly with his father about his struggles with depression. He said: “He spoke about feeling depressed. I told him to get help so many times.”

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Bradley said: “I have no doubt that he intended to take his own life.”

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