Belfast Telegraph

NI-raised writer took own life by leaping in front of 100mph train, inquest is told

David Cavanagh died on December 27 last year
David Cavanagh died on December 27 last year

By Staff Reporter

A respected music journalist who grew up in Northern Ireland killed himself by leaping onto the tracks in front of a high-speed train, an inquest heard yesterday.

David Cavanagh (54) died from multiple traumatic injuries after he was struck by the East Midlands service at Leagrave station in Luton on December 27 last year.

In a note, the writer, who had spent Christmas with his mother in Bedford, said he intended to commit suicide on December 23 but did not want to inconvenience people travelling home for the holidays.

At an inquest in Ampthill yesterday, Bedfordshire Senior Coroner Emma Whitting recorded a verdict that Dublin-born Mr Cavanagh, who grew up near Belfast from the age of five or six, had taken his own life.

At the time of his death, Mr Cavanagh, who was single and had no children, was living at Blenheim Court in Hove, near Brighton.

He had written a critically acclaimed history of the independent record label Creation Records called My Magpie Eyes are Hungry for the Prize.

He also wrote Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life, about the Radio One DJ John Peel.

In a statement provided to the British Transport police, Mr Cavanagh's brother Alan said that while the books were critically acclaimed, they generated little income.

He added his brother was funny and engaging but had been struggling financially.

Mr Cavanagh previously worked as an editor at Select magazine and wrote for Sounds, Q, Uncut and Mojo.

He studied Russian at Birmingham University, later moving to the school of Slavonic studies.

Coroner's officer Peter Smith said Mr Cavanagh was struck by the Derby to London train at 12.16pm on December 27.

He had travelled on a Bedford to Brighton train that morning, getting off at Leagrave.

He then walked over to platform three, where the fast train passed.

The driver, who was travelling at around 100mph, saw Mr Cavanagh put his hand down and then leap off the platform and onto the track.

He blew his horn continually, applied the emergency brake and then shut his eyes. After the impact, train services in the area were halted.

A note left by Mr Cavanagh said he wanted to end his life on December 23 but decided to wait until after Christmas. A Christmas card with £50 inside was also recovered.

He wrote: "Having taken the decision to end my life, I decided to postpone for a few days, not wishing to inconvenience people going home for Christmas."

He wrote of the despair he was feeling, saying: "I am hoping some Karma may come my way."

The coroner read out extracts from an article by John Harris in the Guardian on December 31, in which Mr Cavanagh was referred to as "the best music writer of his times."

She said: "Clearly he was very well-liked and respected by those he worked with."

If you, or anyone close to you, is affected by any issues in this article, please contact the Samaritans free on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

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