Open verdict on bridge death of Rikki Baldwin
AN open verdict has been recorded on the death of Rikki Baldwin, who was seen jumping into the River Wye six days before he was due in court.
The 24-year-old had appeared very drunk moments before he leapt from a bridge, an inquest in Gloucester was told.
A car driver was forced to stop to avoid hitting him in the carriageway before he climbed over the railings on the A48 bridge in Chepstow and jumped into the Wye, 10 metres below.
Strong tides were running that night and despite an immediate search by coastguards, the Severn Area Rescue Association and the police helicopter, no trace of him could be found.
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But Gloucestershire assistant deputy coroner Katy Skerrett said there was not sufficient evidence to record a verdict of suicide, nor could she be sure that Mr Baldwin's death was an accident.
Mr Baldwin, of Beachley Road, Sedbury, had been to his GP three months before his death complaining of mild depression, which may have had something to do with his impending appearance at Gloucester Crown Court for affray, the inquest heard.
In September, three other men were told that, because of Mr Baldwin's death, they were receiving lenient community-based sentences for the same affray in Sedbury.
The inquest heard Mr Baldwin jumped into the river in the early hours of April 9, but his body was not found until a month later on May 5, washed up on the bank of the River Severn near the hamlet of Gatcombe, 13 miles away.
James Hazelwood saw Mr Baldwin walk towards the bridge and said he was "staggering".
"He leaned against the railings at the side of the bridge and then lifted his legs over them and after sitting for a couple of seconds, seemed to push himself off," he said.