AN ACCOUNTANT took his own life after deliberately standing in front of an oncoming train at Winsford Station, an inquest has heard.

Stephen Watson, 54, who was born in Northwich but was living in Talbot Crescent in Whitchurch at the time of his death, had shown no signs of suffering from mental illness and had gone to work 'as normal' on February 3 this year.

Warrington Coroner's Court heard how Mr Watson had been a partner at his firm for more than 20 years and following a meeting at the company that same morning, had left the office at around 10am. Around 40 minutes later, the driver of a freight train noticed a man standing on the tracks at the station and could do nothing but 'turn away' after applying the emergency breaks.

Assistant Coroner for Cheshire Peter Sigee told the hearing that Mr Watson, who was married, had lost his brother in 2019, which according to his wife Deborah French, had affected him.

However, she went on to say in her statement how her husband, who had been a laid-back character who everyone liked, had been making plans with her for the future and planning holidays.

Mr Watson had been a talented footballer in his younger days, including representing mid Cheshire, and in his later years had been a keen player of both squash and tennis.

In the week before his death, she told the inquest how her husband had been working long hours due to the upcoming end of the tax year, but after the January 31 deadline, had arrived home in good spirits and that they enjoyed a good weekend together.

On the morning of his death, she received a text message from him saying he was going to visit a client but as she attempted to respond to that at 10.51am, her message would not deliver.

The inquest also heard from Mr Watson's life-long friend and colleague Gary Hewitt, who said the pair had known each other for more than 50 years after growing up together in the Northwich area. They began working together in 1986 and by 1999 Mr Watson had become a partner in firm.

Unspecified issues within the business had arisen on January 27 and following a meeting at the firms offices on February 3, Mr Watson had left the building at approximately 10am.

Damien Measures, a train driver since 1997, had been on his way back to his Crewe base from the Folly Lane Depot in Runcorn and after being given the all clear to pass through Winsford Station, said he saw 'a shadow or silhouette' move down the tracks to his right hand side about 200 yards in the distance.

After blowing the trains horn, Mr Measures saw a man run across the tracks and activated the emergency brakes. As the train was travelling at around 60mph at the time, he went on to say how he 'turned away' as he knew he would strike the man.

The incident was reported immediately and when British Transport Police attended the scene at around 11.15am, officers spoke to a paramedic on Platform 2 of the station, who told them Mr Watson had been identified from his driving license and had been pronounced dead at the scene at 11.09am.

Dr David Butterworth carried out a post mortem, which determined Mr Watson had died as a result of 1A, disruption of the body due to 1B, impact by a train.

In reaching a conclusion of suicide, Mr Sigee said: "Mr Watson had deliberately placed himself in the path of the moving train with the intention and effect of ending his own life."

Mr Sigee went on to offer Mr Watson's friends and family his condolences and that he was very sorry to have had to learn about him in such circumstances.

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