Knaresborough viaduct teen death - open verdict

AN inquest into the death of Knaresborough schoolboy Jamie Whitaker who died after a fall from the Knaresborough viaduct has returned an open verdict.

Speaking at the inquest at Harrogate Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, Jamie's father Mike Whitaker said: "He will be forever in our memories. He was much loved. He was gifted and talented and was a very bright lad.

"It's just most unfortunate that we will never know quite how this came about. We have just got to try not to dwell on it too much I guess. He will be strong in our hearts."

The inquest heard how 15-year-old Jamie had started at King James School in Knaresborough and had been unsettled for six months.

However this didn't seem to be a huge problem as he had made new friends and he seemed a happy boy said Coroner Geoff Fell.

On September 14 Jamie had a quiet evening at home watching television before going to bed and closing his bedroom door as normal.

Around midnight Mr Whitaker heard the sound of Jamie's bedroom door opening but thought he had just got up to go the bathroom.

He then heard him go downstairs for what Mr Whitaker thought was a drink of water.

However Mr Whitaker did not hear Jamie come back up. He said: "I heard something but at the time I didn't know what it was. I now believe it was the front door opening."

When Mr Whitaker got up and saw Jamie wasn't in his room he went out in his car to look for him and reported him missing to a policeman.

Meanwhile Knaresborough resident Tim Mclean was walking home from the pub with a friend along the Waterside when they saw Jamie lying in the road below the railway viaduct. They tried to help him and called the police and ambulance.

But Jamie died an hour and a half later in Harrogate District Hospital.

The inquest heard how the police had conducted a wide range investigation, making thorough inquiries at homes around the viaduct as well as accessing Jamie's computer, mobile phone and interviewing school friends. But nothing was found to indicate why he may have fallen from the viaduct that night.

Mr Whitaker said: "We don't know why. I don't suppose we ever will."

He added that it had just seemed like a normal day and neither he nor Jamie's mother thought taking his own life was something on Jamie's mind.

"If we had any concerns about the possibility that he might be thinking about suicide we would have...We had no inkling. Absolutely no inkling."

Mr Fell said Jamie enjoyed playing computer games and watching TV comedy shows. He played football, was a member of Starbeck Swimming Club and had recently taken up kiting.

Recording an open verdict, Mr Fell said the police were unable to find any reason as to why he may have fallen from the viaduct and his parents had had no cause for concern.

He said: "I have to say I'm not satisfied he wanted to take his own life. There's nothing to fully disclose how Jamie's death came about.

There needs to be evidence but there's nothing, which is why it would be wrong of me to say he took his own life. I really don't know."