Peter Poobalasingam, 27, (pictured) was a talented chess player, who had represented England at under 18 level
A chess prodigy who attended one of Britain’s most prestigious private schools died after he fell from a bridge onto a busy main road, an inquest heard today.
Peter Poobalasingam, 27, graduated with a first in maths from Bath University after studying at Millfield School in Somerset which has produced a string of cricket and rugby stars.
The talented chess player, who had represented England at under 18 level, was taken to the Royal London Hospital after he was found ‘behaving oddly’ during the early hours of September last year.
But whilst he was being booked in, the former accountant said he needed to make a phone call and left at 1am.
Two hours later he was found by police nine miles away sitting on a wall 15ft above the North Circular near his parents’ home in Finchley, north London.
As the officers approached Mr Poobalasingam stood up on the wall and jumped backwards into the three-lane carriageway ‘within three seconds’.
He was flown back to the Royal London Hospital by air ambulance and put on a life-support machine but died later that day at around 7.30pm.
A coroner recorded an open verdict his father said casualty staff should have stop his son from running away.
Paramedics were called after Mr Poobalasingam was found agitated and ‘talkative’ in Cannon Street, the City of London, at 1am on September 1.
Although he was wearing a suit, Mr Poobalasingam added he had slept in Victoria Park after spending the previous night walking around it.
A post mortem revealed he died from severe head injuries and a bleed on the brain.
Poplar Coroner’s Court heard Mr Poobalasingam had suffered from depression in 2015 and prescribed medication, but had recovered and was not showing any signs of being unhappy in the days leading up to his death.
The talented chess player was found by police sitting about the North Circular near his parents’ home in Finchley (pictured)
His father Iyampillai Poobalasingam told the court his son called him from the ambulance and was not acting normally.
He said: ‘My concern is if he was not acting like himself and was not acting normally how he can discharge himself from hospital?
‘I’m concerned for safety reasons why it was possible for him to do that.’
Andrew Wade-Zammit, a paramedic who took Mr Poobalasingam to hospital, told the court he was acting normally on the journey and there were no signs he wanted to harm himself.
The inquest heard paramedics and hospitals only have limited powers to detain patients and staff waited for 25 minutes before calling the police.
Dr Mischa Heron, a consultant in emergency care at RLH, told the hearing all proper policy was followed by hospital staff.
He said: ‘What happened that day was an unusual sequence of events with a tragic outcome.
‘Staff followed appropriate processes and there were no failings in care.
‘We don’t want to contact police unnecessarily when the patient is nearby, we have to review CCTV and make sure they have actually left the premises.
‘It was clearly a very tragic set of circumstances but nothing could have been done any differently to change those outcomes.’
Coroner Sarah Bourke gave an open verdict and said: ‘It was clearly very, very odd.
‘We know he did make some comments that he felt suicidal but didn’t express any desire to harm himself.
Mr Poobalasingam studied at the prestigious Millfield School in Somerset (pictured), which has produced a string of cricket and rugby stars
‘His behaviour was unpredictable but there’s no evidence to say why, or to satisfy me that Peter intended to take his life when he jumped onto the North Circular Road.
‘It’s clear his behaviour that day was odd but it isn’t clear why his behaviour was affected the way it was.’
After the hearing Peter’s father Iyampillai, who rushed from Glasgow to London to visit his son in intensive carem said hospital staff should have stopped his son from leaving.
He said: ‘The hospital should have prevented this from happening. If he was acting the way he was why would they not stop him?
‘If a patient is that ill they should not let him go, especially if he’s a suicidal person. They should have got security or the police to stop him.
‘They just don’t treat those conditions seriously enough or if they do it’s not until it is too late.
‘The verdict was the only one that could be delivered from what was heard.’
Mr Poobalasingam had also been coaching under 14 chess players, one of whom went on to become a British champion shortly after he died.
Iyampillai added: ‘He was such a generous and thoughtful man, he was so clever and was very popular on the chess world.
‘He could speak Italian, Portuguese and got As at A level in Greek, Latin and French. He would always help the youngster and the next generation.’
In 2007 and 2008 he won the UK Chess Challenge out of the 40,000 players and competed at the World University Chess Championships in 2010 in Zurich.
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