A MAN who saw himself as a ‘crusader working for the little man’ ended his own life to avoid a further prison sentence, an inquest has heard.

Robert ‘Bob’ Pickthall, of Weaver Way, died late on July 30 last year after being hit by a train at Acton Bridge station – with a coroner rejecting claims that he was unlawfully killed by a third party.

Mr Pickthall, who had previously been jailed for harassment after sending Cheshire West and Chester Council more than 1,200 emails, was due in court the following day for breaching the terms of his sentence and had told friends he was expecting to be jailed for up to five years.

Mr Pickthall maintained that he had not sent the emails, and spent years sending emails and freedom of information requests to try and prove his innocence.

The 64-year-old also sent letters to neighbours – to arrive on July 31 – informing them that he had decided to end his own life. He had also told a friend earlier in July he had the ‘option’ of suicide available should the court case go ahead.

An email to his partner said: “I can’t do more prison for doing nothing other than trying to prove my innocence.”

On the night of July 30, he sent correspondence to bodies including parish councils detailing his intentions, with one clerk raising the alarm to police after reading the email after 10pm.

Clothing was found under a train which terminated in Liverpool and widescale searches of the rail network began but, sadly, it was too late and Mr Pickthall’s body was found just after midnight.

He had travelled alone from his home to Acton Bridge station in a taxi, arriving shortly after 10pm.

Friends of Mr Pickthall who said they had been investigating the death told the court that they were unconvinced by the police’s version of events, claiming third party involvement and impropriety in the police investigation, coroner’s report, council conduct and even Mr Pickthall’s partner.

Recording a conclusion of suicide caused by severe head injuries, area coroner for Cheshire Peter Sigee rejected the possibility of unlawful killing –after hearing 23 exhibits of evidence including emails and messages between the ‘Justice Watch’ group and other parties.

A police officer’s investigation concluded: “I have not been made aware of any evidence that would lead this away from being a suicide.”

Mr Sigee said: “Mr Pickthall was worried about [court] proceedings. He was concerned that there was a realistic option that he may be sent to prison.

“On July 22 he referred to a ‘third option’ of ‘checking out’, where he explicitly described the possibility of taking his own life and doing so by some form of contact with a train.

“I am satisfied on the evidence before me that Mr Pickthall died as a result of suicide.”

Mr Pickthall’s sister said in a statement that he was a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character, while the parish clerk who reported him missing described him as a man of definitive opinions who saw himself as a ‘crusader working for the little man’ against ‘malevolent’ bodies.

She added: “He believed there was a conspiracy against him.”