Double tragedy for family

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A coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide in an ‘extremely sad case’ after a Bicester teenager was hit and killed by a train four years after his father took his own life.

Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter gave his condolences to the family of 19-year-old Marcus Rawlings, from Oxlip Leyes, who was killed instantly when he was hit by a 65mph train at the Bucknell Road railway bridge at around 1.10pm on April 8.

The coroner’s court heard statements from witnesses including Tracey Rawlings, mother of Marcus, the young man’s girlfriend Megan Benfield, and his GP Dr Kim Wallace.

In her statement, Dr Wallace, of the Berryfields Medical Centre in Aylesbury, said she had seen Mr Rawlings three days before his death.

She said they had discussed his weight loss and being underweight, and that Mr Rawlings had mentioned he had failed to get into the Army on medical grounds due to a problem with his knees.

But Dr Wallace said Mr Rawlings appeared, “cheerful and in good spirits”, and said he had spoken about starting an apprenticeship as a mechanic.

In her statement, Tracey Rawlings said Marcus was “a happy, contented son who had his life ahead and was looking forward to starting work.”

She said her son, who was a former Aylesbury Grammar pupil and Waddesdon sixth-former, had been an active member of Aylesbury Swimming Club.

But she said when Marcus was 15 years old he had experienced a “life changing event.”

A verdict of suicide had been recorded in the death of his father, Andrew Rawlings, who was hit by a train near Leighton Buzzard in 2009.

In his statement to the inquest, Chiltern train driver Peter Ward described what he witnessed shortly after 1pm on April 8.

He said: “The journey was uneventful until I approached the Bucknell Road overbridge about a mile north of Bicester North station.

“The line speed is 100mph. I was doing between 65mph and 70mph, and visibility was good.

“A man seemed to appear from nowhere about 40ft ahead.

“He appeared to pick up pace.”

He added: “I just about had time to sound the horn when I heard a considerable bang.”

Mr Ward said he felt extremely sorry for the family and their loss.

Det Sgt Adrian Naylor, of British Transport Police, said CCTV footage from the front of the train, together with text messages and notes left by Mr Rawlings, had demonstrated his intent to take his own life.

He said there were no suspicious circumstances.

No traces of drugs or alcohol were found in Mr Rawlings’ body.

His girlfriend, Megan Binfield, said in her statement she had a “totally out-of-character” text from Mr Rawlings at around 9am the morning before his death.

When she went to see him, he told her: “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m not going to be here tomorrow.”

Miss Binfield told him to seek help and gave him some numbers to call, and his mood seemed to improve.

But the next day she had a long text message from Mr Rawlings which made her ‘extremely concerned’.

She discovered he had died after going to see him at his home at around lunchtime.

She later found five notes addressed to family members on his laptop.

Family acquaintance Steve Hunt, who was carrying out some work inside the home on the morning of April 8, was the last person known to have seen Mr Rawlings before his death.

He said Mr Rawlings was, “always very pleasant and well-spoken, and although frustrated by his injuries was in good spirits.”

Mr Hunt described how Mr Rawlings put on his coat and shoes before saying in a cheerful voice: “I’m going out, see you in a bit.”

In his conclusion, Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter said: “Although he had no mental health history, and saw his GP on April 8, we do know of the events of the weekend, sometimes he seemed OK and sometimes not OK.

“We have letters and texts outlining his intention to take his own life.”

The coroner gave his condolences to the family.

Recording his verdict, the coroner said at around 1.10pm on April 8, Marcus Rawlings had stepped onto the line and had been killed instantly when he was hit by a train.