Court hears 'stressed' suspended police chief turned his back before 60mph train hit him
2:20pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in News
The moment when a suspended police chief stepped to his death in front of a 60mph train in near Moreton-in-Marsh has been described in detail to a coroner today.
Deputy Gloucestershire coroner David Dooley heard that Gordon Fraser, chief constable of Leicestershire, walked onto the line last Friday and then turned his back to the train just before it hit him.
The 49-year-old and his wife had been due to face St Alban's Magistrates Court yesterday on a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice over a speeding offence. He was also suspended from duty over allegations of fraud and misconduct involving an overseas property business.
After hearing the circumstances of Mr Fraser's death, the deputy coroner said "There was a gentleman here under severe pressure, especially especially given his occupation and position?"
Det Insp Paul Langley, of British Transport Police, who gave evidence at today's inquest opening in Gloucester, replied "Correct."
DI Langley told the coroner Mr Fraser was deputy chief constable of Leicestershire Constabulary and had been suspended by the force.
"He had been charged and was due to appear at St Alban's court on Monday 22nd October," he said. "There was a request by the defence to adjourn those proceedings on that day. The chances are that the proceedings would have been adjourned for a couple of weeks but I don't know if he would have been aware of that.
"The charge was attempting to pervert the course of justice."
The inquest heard that Mr Fraser was born on 28th July 1963 and died on 19th Oct this year. He lived in Birmingham road, Ansley, Nuneaton.
Coroner's officer Terry Onions told the inquest "At 1.25pm on Friday last British Transport police contacted the coroner's office to report the death of a male person at Aston Magna railway crossing near Moreton in Marsh.
"The circumstances were that at about 12.17pm the Paddington to Hereford train was doing 55-60mph when it reached this location.
"A male person was seen to walk from bushes on the left hand side and step onto the railway track. As the train approached the person turned his back towards it and he was struck.
"The train braked and stopped and the emergency services were called. British Transport police attended and the body of a male person was recovered.
"Documents with the body suggested it was Gordon Stewart Fraser, a serving senior police officer with Leicestershire Constabulary.
"Fingerprints were taken at the scene and these gave positive identification to confirm the body was that of Mr Fraser."
The deputy coroner said: "The disruption to the body was so extreme that only a sample of urine and not blood could be taken for analysis?"
Mr Onions said "The cause of death has been established by Professor Neil Shepherd as multiple injuries. Samples have been taken for toxicological analysis but that is only urine because nothing else was available."
The deputy coroner formally opened and adjourned the inquest to a date to be fixed. He gave permission for the body to be released for cremation.
Mr Fraser had been due to appear in court yesterday alongside his wife, Teresa, who is also a police officer. The couple were charged in July with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by allegedly lying to help Mr Fraser avoid a speeding fine.
At the time of the alleged offence, Mr Fraser, who had been a police officer for almost 25 years, was suspended from his post while he was investigated for suspected fraud and gross misconduct.
The inquiry centres on his alleged involvement in an overseas property business, in which investors reportedly lost money.
In January last year, after he was suspended, Mr Fraser spoke out to protest his innocence.
He said: "They are paying me to stay at home, which is nonsense. I have been a public servant all my career," he said at that time.
"All I want to do is get back to my job of protecting the public. It's what I was brought up to do. I was doing a pretty damned good job when I was working and I was making a difference.
"I'm desperate to help the investigation and I am convinced my name is going to be cleared.
"Obviously, they will dot every I and cross every T and it will take months and then they will start asking me questions. Even if I am proven to be totally innocent, my career is over."
Mr Fraser's 42-year-old wife, a detective with West Midlands Police, is also suspended as part of the investigation.
As the force's assistant chief constable, Mr Fraser oversaw its performance on tackling and investigating crime.