Retired solicitor stepped in front of train on day of hospital discharge

Date: Wednesday 23rd December 2009

A RETIRED solicitor who lived at Gaisgill, Tebay, stepped in front of a speeding train only hours after being discharged from a hospital at which he had been receiving treatment for depression, an inquest at Kendal heard on Friday.

Alexander Maynard Reid died near a railway bridge at Paddy Lane, Kendal, on 8th April at the age of 65.

Sergeant Neil Wildridge, of the British Transport Police, said he had received a report from a train driver that somebody had stepped on to the railway in front of a southbound passenger train, which would have been travelling at 85-90mph, at around 7-36pm.

The person made no attempt to get off the track and the train was so close the driver did not even have time to sound his horn. Mr. Reid’s four-wheel-drive vehicle was found parked nearby.

Mr. Reid’s brother, Malcolm Reid, from near Hexham, Northumberland, told the inquest his brother had been due to retire from a Kendal-based firm of solicitors called Milne Moser and Sons almost a year before his death.

He found the prospect of retirement difficult, and his worries were made worse by the fact he was struggling with computerisation at his workplace.

He had been married about 40 years before, but this had lasted only six months and he had attempted to take his own life when it ended. “He never remarried his work was his life, and the social life generated by work,” said his brother.


A crisis came in January, 2008, when Mr. Reid could no longer cope and went to live with his brother and sister-in-law near Hexham.

Over the following 14 months or so he was in and out of hospital on several occasions, and spent some time at the Carleton Clinic, Carlisle. He was prescribed various medications to treat his depression.

Latterly he was in the Westmorland General Hospital, Kendal, where he seemed to be making progress, and spent some periods at his home at Gaisgill in order to prepare to look after himself. On these occasions either his brother Malcolm or another brother, Graham, stayed with him.

Dr. Patricia Thomas, who was a consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, said that by March Mr. Reid needed to be moved on from hospital, otherwise he would have found it increasingly hard to cope with the outside world.

She had been concerned about the isolated nature of his home, but he resisted suggestions that he rent a smaller flat in or near Kendal, or move into supported accommodation.

He went to the hospital for a review on 8th April and it was decided that he should be discharged, and a member of the hospital’s crisis team took him home that afternoon.

According to Dr. Thomas, he was anxious about this, although he would have received considerable support at home and could have been readmitted to hospital if necessary. She added that he must have got in his vehicle and driven to Paddy Lane soon after being left at home.

Malcolm Reid praised the work done by NHS staff, but said there seemed to be a gap between the point vulnerable patients were released from hospital and when they started receiving support at home.

He questioned why notes from his brother’s review meetings could not have been sent direct to him, although he acknowledged the matter of patient confidentiality was the main reason for this had not been done.

He also said either he or his brother Graham should have been informed about Mr. Reid’s discharge from hospital.

The jury decided Mr. Reid died as a consequence of his own actions while suffering from a severe mental illness.