Inquest: Brother says ‘very popular’ Derbyshire man was ‘let down’ by mental health system

The Coroners Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield.
The Coroners Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield.

The brother of a ‘very popular’ Derbyshire man who died after being struck by a train claims he was ‘let down’ by the mental health system.

Alan Henson, 66, of Snape Hill Crescent, Dronfield, died after being hit by a train in Dronfield on June 18 last year.

At a two-day inquest into his death, which started today at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court, it was said that Mr Henson, a former labourer, was on a downward spiral after being made redundant in 2012 and suffering a stroke in 2014.

According to his brother, Kevin, 59, Mr Henson did not think that his prescribed medication was working and that he wanted to be sectioned.

“There was a day when the mental health team came round and he was very, very agitated,” Kevin said.

“In my mind he was crying, pleading, banging his fists. I do not think you needed to be a professional to see that he wanted some help to take him away.

“I do not blame them. He was let down by the system. One of them said there was nowhere to take him. Whether that meant nowhere around here I do not know.”

“Maybe they were discouraged from taking people because there was no where to take them.

“When they left he said ‘that’s it - that’s my last chance gone’.”

Mr Henson was born in Chesterfield and grew up in Dronfield and had been in work since the age of 15 until he was made redundant in 2012.

As a result of a stroke in 2014, Mr Henson suffered physical disabilities including a loss of vision in one of his eyes and a loss of feeling down his left side - causing him to lose confidence and have panic attacks.

Before his stroke, Mr Henson was described as a ‘sociable’ man but this ‘tailored off’ after he become worried about what people might think.

He also became ‘fixated’ on how he would spend his time each day.

It was after returning from a trip to Thailand in December 2015 to see his wife in which he was said to have come back ‘really agitated’ and there was doubts over whether he had been taking his prescribed medication regularly while out there.

Kevin, who lived with his brother, said: “He was very vulnerable at that time.

“I did not want him to go but he was determined to go.

“He came back really agitated. He was in a bad place when he came back.”

Kevin said his brother had mentioned suicide in the months before his death and that he had tried to reassure him.

Mr Henson had also previously gone down to the railway lines in Dronfield in an apparent attempt to self harm, the court heard.

Mr Henson had also previously told his brother about a cheque he had written and left in a draw upstairs ‘in case anything happened to me’.

On the morning of his death, Mr Henson was said to have become ‘fixated’ on what he was going to do that day.

Kevin said: “It was about 6.45am and he came into my room and said ‘what am I going to do today?’

“I told him to go downstairs and make a cup of tea and then I would join him.

“I needed to go out and do the shopping so I told him to clean his bedroom and windows.

“As I left he said ‘don’t forget to get some Domestus’.

“I can only assume that later on he thought ‘that’s it’ and set off.”

Mr Henson suffered ‘significant’ injuries after being struck by the train on the railway line at Dronfield.

A statement was read out on behalf of the train driver who said that he sounded the emergency horn but there was ‘nothing he could do’.

Assistant coroner for Derbyshire, James Newman, said: “It is clear that Mr Henson was a man who had worked throughout his life and was a very sociable person.

“He had a lot of friends who were always trying to support him.

“When he got back from Thailand he was in a dark place.

“His bad days started to outweigh his good days.

“Something happened on that Saturday.

“He blanked people on the way to the railway line who had known him for years.

“He was not deviated at all.”

The inquest was adjourned until tomorrow (Tuesday).