Teenager drowned after jumping off St Neots bridge, inquest hears

Jack Oxlee. Jack Oxlee.

Friday, March 7, 2014
5:47 PM

A teenager who “could not find his niche” in life died after jumping off a bridge in St Neots last year.

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Jack Oxlee, 18, left Paines Mill Foyer, in Phoenix Square, at about 8.20pm on Monday, February 11, and was seen to jump off the town bridge into the River Great Ouse, roughly 15 minutes later.

Police search and rescue teams, the force helicopter, divers, Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue (CamSAR), Spartan Water Rescue and Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue were all scrambled to find Jack but with no success.

A search continued for five weeks until, sadly, a body was spotted in the River Great Ouse near the Priory Centre by a member of the public on March 16.

At an inquest on Wednesday (February 26) into the death, coroner David Morris was told a post-mortem examination showed Jack died from drowning. Jack, who had moved to Paines Mill – which provides affordable accommodation for young people – in May 2012, was due to start a course at Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire, two days after he disappeared.

The corner was also told how Jack had been visited by the mental health crisis resolution team an hour before he was last seen as workers at Paines Mill were concerned for his welfare. The week before, Jack was assessed by psychiatrists at Peterborough City Hospital after trying to take his life.

Daphne Brown, a volunteer counsellor at Paines Mill, said she had forged a strong bond with Jack since their first session in November 2012.

She told the inquest at Lawrence Court, Huntingdon: “Jack said he felt trapped. He hadn’t got a future and he was trapped. He was quite passive and he had his highs and his lows. We talked about him working with animals and going to Shuttleworth College.”

After the inquest, Ms Brown told The Hunts Post: “He was very gifted, this was part of his frustration. He was intelligent and he played the guitar beautifully. He wanted to be almost different in a way. I think he was quite popular at school. After he left, he just couldn’t find his niche.”

Shane Railley, speaking on behalf of Jack’s mother Racheal Griffin, claimed the teenager had been “let down”.

“We believe there were a lot of people that could have made a difference,” Mr Railley told the inquest. “If we had half of the information that everyone else had, the outcome would have been dramatically different.”

Mr Morris, south and west Cambridgeshire coroner, gave an open verdict.

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