Kilburn teenager Shaun Dykes committed suicide, inquest finds

A desperate teenager was driven to jump 60 feet to his death by the cruel taunts of the crowd below, an inquest heard.

Police negotiators, who spent over two hours trying to dissuade 17-year-old Shaun Dykes from jumping from the roof of the Westfield centre in Derby, said their work was made much more difficult by heckling from the crowd which had gathered on London Road below.

Shouts of "jump", "get on with it", and "stop wasting time" were clearly heard from the sixth floor car park, as the incident unfolded on Saturday, September 27, 2008.

At the inquest, on Thursday, Louise Pinder, deputy assistant coroner for Derby Coroner's Court, said she thought it was a "great shame" the people goading Shaun had not been identified and brought to justice.

She returned a verdict that Shaun, of Elm Tree Avenue, took his own life, saying it was "abundantly clear" there were a number of factors leading to his death.

Inspector Barry Thacker, one of the negotiators said: "Hand on heart, I felt we made some progress towards the end. He asked us to stop talking because we were giving him too many options, and I could see in his eyes that he was weighing up the positive things in his life. I took that as a positive sign.

"But when he heard the shouts he would disengage from us, look at the people on London Road, close his eyes and start counting down from 10 - obviously a sign he was preparing to jump. That happened on three or four occasions, but we managed to get him back."

Seconds before he died he reached for Insp Thacker's hand to help him down, but was distracted by shouts of: "You're wasting tax-payers' money."

The inspector said he then turned again, closed his eyes and jumped.

The coroner said: "Those individuals who taunted Shaun are responsible, at least in part, for his death.

"I find it incomprehensible that while two police negotiators were talking with such sensitivity and taking such care with Shaun that those members of the public below were acting so insensitively and with no apparent concern for a fellow human being."

Just days before Shaun had broken-up with his boyfriend, 18-year-old David Challands, who he also lived with.

He suffered from depression, and had twice previously tried to commit suicide.

Mr Challands, of Avis Avenue, Marlpool, said: "I knew he was unstable half-way through our relationship. He would tell me about feeling depressed, he thought nobody cared about him. Daily, I had to reassure him that everyone was there for him.

"He said if I left him he would kill himself, and I knew that he would, so I felt like I had to stay with him."

He added that he ended the relationship as he "really just couldn't do it anymore".

In the week leading to his death, Shaun had told friends and family that he had considered ending his life.