Hanging death in Ilkeston woodland ‘might not have been suicide’

A young man who hanged himself in woodland, where he had been living in a tent, may not have meant to kill himself, a coroner has ruled.

Daniel Haslam, of Ash Street, Cotmanhay, was found by his father hanging from a tree off Manners Avenue, near Ilkeston ambulance station, on September 8 last year.

An inquest heard on Wednesday that the 22-year-old had sent texts to his girlfriend Sophia Palmer shortly beforehand, threatening to take his own life.

Cooler boxes were found toppled over near his feet which the coroner said Daniel could have stood on to attach the cord.

But Dr Robert Hunter at Derby Coroners Court said he could not say for certain that the texts had not been ‘manipulation’.

“Was Daniel’s intention to kill himself or was his intention that someone would read this and she would rush round and everything would be ok?” he asked, adding: “Did he lose his balance? Did he get tired?

“A momentary lapse of concentration and he fell from that box? It was all possible – we can’t say for certain one way or another.”

Miss Palmer told the court that she and Daniel, who had been going out for five months and were ‘addicted’ to cannabis, often argued.

And when they did argue, he would sometimes threaten suicide and had, on one occasion, taken an overdose of sleeping tablets and prescribed anti-depressants.

She said: “He lit up a room. He was very bubbly, always smiling making people laugh.”

But after a while the relationship became ‘stressful’.

She said Daniel had been deeply affected by the death of his brother from meningitis in 1995, especially around the anniversary in August.

Miss Palmer and Daniel made a suicide pact when they thought he was going to prison but were stopped on their way to the Bennerley Viaduct by a police officer, who talked them out of it, she said.

Having been evicted from a hostel, a few weeks before his death, Daniel had been bailed by a court to live in the tent, rather than a permanent address.

Pc John Aldred, of Ilkeston station, also giving evidence, said this was a ‘strange decision’ by the court.

On the day of Daniel’s death, Miss Palmer said the pair had woken up in the tent ‘in a good mood’ which quickly soured.

They argued and Pc Aldred was called to the scene. Daniel’s dad was already there.

Miss Palmer left Daniel to ‘cool off’ and went home to sleep.

She did not notice two texts from Daniel, telling her ‘the rope is round my neck’ and asking her to ring him, until he was already dead.

When Mr Haslam later found his son dead, he called 999 and Pc Aldred returned to the scene.

Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to save him as he was ‘still warm’, according to the officer.

Dr Hunter returned a verdict of death by misadventure.