Suicidal son ‘let down by the sytem’
THE family of a serial arsonist who killed himself on railway lines in Peterborough feel he was let down by the justice system, an inquest heard.
Daniel Richard Graham (20), of Hundreds Road, Crowland, died after standing in front of a high-speed East Coast train at 8.23am on October 30 last year, on tracks near Marholm Road.
At an inquest at Peterborough Town Hall yesterday his mother, Eileen Graham, said her son went into a downward spiral after being jailed in December 2007 for arson.
Tests before his sentencing showed he suffered from autism, dyspraxia, depression, hyperactivity and low self esteem. But - despite defence pleas for a suspended sentence with regular psychiatric reports - Mr Graham was jailed for two years after admitting to seven counts of arson and asking for 11 others charges to be considered. He was released in December 2008.
Mrs Graham, of Appleyard, Stanground, said: “The courts let Daniel down. Two psychiatric reports suggested he needed help. He was not given that help.”
He told her he would be dead before 30 and mentioned taking his life on the railway tracks. He also asked his father if he could be “possessed”.
Mrs Graham said her son – who was unemployed and rarely went out – felt he was living in a “dream world” and added: “He had given up on life.”
He had counselling for behavioural problems when he was five. They continued and, after leaving school in July 2006, he began setting fires. Mrs Graham said she reported suspicions about his activities to police twice but it was some months before he was arrested in January 2007.
She said: “It could have been stopped sooner. It might not have come to what it did. When he finally got caught he said, ‘I’m glad because I didn’t know how to stop’.”
The inquest heard Mr Graham put pillows in his bed to fool his father – who he lived with – into thinking he was asleep on the morning of October 30. He cycled eight miles to the railway line at Marholm Road, where East Coast train driver Russell Williams saw him step onto the tracks - 400 yards in front of his train, which was travelling at 125mph.
Mr Williams said: “It was impossible to stop. I was continually sounding the horn and the person made no attempt to move. The actions of this person in my mind were deliberate and he must have known the train was approaching.”
A jury returned a verdict that Mr Graham killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed.
Coroner Gordon Ryall said: “He had a troubled history. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he needed help to see him through his problems and he probably needed professional help which was not available to him.”