A SENIOR police officer threw himself from a railway viaduct less than 24 hours after speaking to a mental health community team, an inquest heard.
Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Swinson, the head of crime at Cleveland Police, had battled with depression for almost 20 years and was receiving treatment at the time of his death.
Today (Wednesday, February 13), Teesside Coroner’s Court heard that the father-of-two died from multiple fractures after he jumped from the viaduct, near Yarm high street, in March last year.
His widow, Susan, raised concerns over the quality of treatment her husband received from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health nurse Nick Lovett.
The inquest heard how the Stockton-based nurse spoke to Mr Swinson for 50 minutes on the phone the day before he died, then visited him for over an hour.
Mr Swinson’s widow, a 46-year-old nurse, told the inquest Mr Lovett should have taken more notice of her concerns for her husband.
“Why didn’t you take my comments more seriously, knowing I was a nurse? I told you how agitated and unwell he had been,” she said.
Mr Lovett replied: “I did take it seriously.”
An appointment had been made to see him again in nine days, after Mr Swinson had been on a family break to the Lake District.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Kenneth Mitchell, who had treated Mr Swinson, said the officer had previously tried to kill himself in 1993 through a combination of a drug overdose and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The inquest heard that on the day of his death Mr Swinson was almost hit by a train after making his way to the railway viaduct in Yarm.
The driver, Matthew Martin, told how he saw Mr Swinson crouched down next to the rail track and as the train approached he stood up and waved at him.
The concerned driver slammed on the brakes and asked the conductor, Stephen Taylor, to look out of the rear window.
Mr Taylor told how he saw Mr Swinson sitting on the side of the viaduct before easing himself over the edge.
Mrs Swinson arrived at the scene soon after, having been worried by not being able to contact her husband.
In a statement read out in court, she said: “The hardest part of the day was telling the children what had happened to their dad. I don’t know how I got through the day but I did.”
Coroner Michael Sheffield recorded a verdict that Mr Swinson killed himself.
Speaking after the hearing, a spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would encourage Mrs Swinson to get in touch with us to discuss any concerns she may still have about the care and treatment of her late husband.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sean White said: “The coroner’s inquest today has provided a more complete understanding of the tragic events that led to the loss of our friend and highly respected colleague Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Swinson.
“I hope in particular that Stewart’s family can take something from today’s inquiry.
“He made an outstanding contribution to policing over three decades.”
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “Stewart was well liked and respected by everyone who knew him and worked with him, and we were all saddened by his sudden death.
“Our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends.”