Inquest hears heartbreaking story of father's suicide

Inquest hears heartbreaking story of father's suicide

A depressive father hugged his young son and told him how he wanted him to grow up the day before he lay down in front of a train and killed himself, an inquest heard today.

Donal Mullan, 36, died instantly when a maintenance train ran over him close to a level crossing in Dunloy, Co Antrim, in February.

His ex-partner Fedeilme Martin told a coroner's court in Coleraine how the joiner, originally from nearby Ballymoney, had called at her house the previous night and asked to see their son Jack.

"He was very emotional with him and telling him how he wanted him to turn out when he grew up," she said in a statement read to court.

Ms Martin, who wiped tears from her face as she sat in the witness box, said her former boyfriend had threatened to kill himself on numerous occasions and on that night she had to take a knife off him.

"He told me he was going to slit his throat," she stated.

Mr Mullan returned to her home the following evening and again spent time with his son.

When she told him he couldn't stay the night, he threatened to take his own life again, making a move for another knife in the kitchen.

Around 10.30pm he left, telling her he was going to the railway line.

"I wasn't worried," she stated. "As the last train was at 10.15 and he couldn't have done any damage to himself."

She added: "Donal had threatened to commit suicide a few times. It was always a cry for help for him and I just thought it was like all the other times."

Ms Martin told the North's senior coroner John Leckey that her ex-partner had been treated in hospital a number of times for depression and suicidal thoughts.

But she said before he had always managed to "lift himself up again".

Around an hour after Mr Mullan left her house that night, she saw the flashing lights of emergency services coming from the direction of the railway line at Station Road.

Mr Mullan had been run over by an engineering train on its way from Ballymena to Coleraine after normal passengers services had finished for the day.

Driver Victor Brown, 38, was travelling with co-worker Raymond Dowey, 59, when they both noticed something on the line as they approached the crossroads.

But with Mr Mullan lying face down and motionless, neither thought it was a person "I thought it looked like a cushion that somebody had thrown across the rail", Mr Dowey recalled in a statement.

Mr Brown said he made out what looked to be a pair of jeans just moments before the train passed over.

"As soon as I saw a pair of jeans I applied the emergency break and said to Raymond I think it's a man we hit," he stated.

Coroner Leckey said the Translink workers had endured a traumatic experience.

"It will take a long time to get over, if you're ever able to," he told Mr Dowey.

A pathologist found that Mr Mullan was three and half times over the drink drive limit and had a cocktail of painkillers, anti-depressants and tranquillisers in his system when he died.

"The effect of those drugs with the alcohol would have affected his mental stability," the medical report recorded.

Mr Leckey said there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Mr Mullan took his own life whilst in a "highly disturbed emotional state".

He extended his condolences to Ms Martin and members of the Mullan family who were in court.

A spokeswoman for Translink also passed on the company's sympathies to the bereaved parties.

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