Wednesday, 3 Mar 2021

Film crew watch dad-of-two fall to his death from tower block, inquest hears

A TV actress filming a high rise drama watched in horror as a member of the public joined her on set and jumped to his death, an inquest heard.

Actress and movie writer Olivia Emden – who recently appeared in Brave New World on Sky – smiled at window cleaner Paul Child before he plunged 100ft from a balcony.

Olivia, 28, who is also a screenwriter, was starring in a gritty short picture, directed by students from Leeds Film School, part of the West Yorkshire city’s Beckett University, when the tragedy unfolded.

Wakefield Coroner’s Court heard dad-of-two Paul, 53, had been a voluntary patient on the Becklin Centre mental health ward of St James’ Hospital for a month before his death.

He had self harmed, taken overdoses and attempted to hang himself in the past, but was off alcohol and illegal drugs whilst on the ward.

He had wanted to get better and return home, the inquest heard.

But, Paul, who was a huge Leeds United fan, was allowed unsupervised leave from the hospital’s un-gated Becklin Centre and at 10.17am on March 1, last year, he made his way to the movie set.

Paul was buzzed in by a builder and took the lift to the eighth floor.

In January Olivia landed an acting job working with the Leeds Film School, part of Leeds Beckett University, and filming began in February.

Students from the university had arranged for the use of an empty flat, number 54 Ferriby Towers, in the Lincoln Green area of Leeds, just a few minutes walk from the Becklin Centre.

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Olivia told the inquest that she arrived at flat 54 around 10am and that they had started filming when she spotted a man who she had not seen before, and assumed to be a resident.

Paul was standing two to three metres away as she sat down and he was looking back at her as he smoked a cigarette.

“I smiled at him and he smiled back”, said the actress.

He then 'launched' himself over the balcony.

Olivia said she "didn’t believe" what she’d seen and she shouted out "someone has just jumped".

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A post mortem concluded Paul died from multiple injuries and a toxicology report found he had minimal alcohol and only medication drugs in his system.

His former partner Marion Dyer told the inquest: ”Paul was very funny, humorous. He made everybody laugh.”

But after losing his brother and both parents he fell into depression, drink and drugs.

Recording a verdict of suicide, assistant Coroner Janine Wolstenholme said: ”Paul experienced highs and lows, sometimes on the same day.

"Paul was allowed to leave the ward unescorted, as he had done many times before without incident.

“On March 1 there was nothing different about him or anything to cause concern, even with the benefit of hindsight."

She said Paul was classed as "significant" risk by medical staff and he had made numerous attempts on his life.

“Paul caused himself to fall over the balcony at Ferriby Towers and took his own life,” she said.

“This is a tragic case.”

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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