Sui­ci­dal son ‘let down by the sytem’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By KATIE CAM­PLING

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.”

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