Inquest hears how man was hit by train in Thetford just hours after leaving hospital

Luke Emmerson

Luke Emmerson - Credit: Archant

A coroner has expressed concern over a mental health ward's discharge procedure after a man died just hours after leaving hospital.

Luke Emmerson, 33, was walking on a railway line near Two Mile Bottom in Thetford on June 22 last year when he was hit by a train.

Hours earlier he had been released from the Woodlands mental health unit in Ipswich after previously attempting to take his own life.

His death prompted an investigation and subsequent report by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust into the unit's handling of patients.

An inquest in Norwich yesterday, heard how Mr Emmerson had been sent back to his house on Elgin Way, Thetford, after being discharged. His mother Virginia said her son had lived alone and returning back to his home would have put him back to 'where he started'.

Her concerns were shared by senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake, who said: 'I am concerned particularly where people are living on their own that they shouldn't be discharged to a cold empty home with no arrangements in place for their wellbeing.

'And I do propose writing a letter to the trust, setting out my concerns with a view for the trust to look at that particular discharge procedure.' On the day of his release from the ward, an assessment found there was no immediate risk to Mr Emmerson's life.

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He had told a psychiatrist he was due for an appointment with the Norfolk Recovery Partnership, but the inquest heard how this was never verified before he was discharged.

At around 10.40pm on June 22 train driver Richard Martin saw Mr Emmerson looking 'startled and disorientated' on the tracks.

The inquest heard how he had been travelling at 75mph and unable to stop in time.

Mrs Lake ruled out suicide as the train driver saw Mr Emmerson attempt to run off the railway line at the last second.

She said: 'It might be that he never intended to die. His thoughts during last moments of his life are not known.'

She concluded that he died as a result of his injuries after going onto a train track in the path of an oncoming train.