Suicide man visited son before lying on rail track
A depressive father hugged his young son and told him how he wanted him to grow up before he lay down in front of a train and killed himself, an inquest has heard.
Donal Mullan (36) died instantly when a maintenance train ran over him close to a level crossing in Dunloy, Co Antrim, in February.
His ex-partner Fedeilme Martin told a coroner's court in Coleraine yesterday how the joiner, originally from Ballymoney, had called at her house the previous night and asked to see their son Jack.
“He was very emotional with him and telling him how he wanted him to turn out when he grew up,” she said in a statement read to court.
Ms Martin, who wiped tears from her face as she sat in the witness box, said her former boyfriend had threatened to kill himself on numerous occasions and on that night she had to take a knife off him.
“He told me he was going to slit his throat,” she said.
Mr Mullan returned to her home the following evening and again spent time with his son.
When she told him he couldn't stay the night, he threatened to take his own life again, making a move for another knife in the kitchen. At around 10.30pm he left, telling her he was going to the railway line.
“I wasn't worried as the last train was at 10.15 and he couldn't have done any damage to himself,” Ms Martin said. She added: “Donal had threatened to commit suicide a few times. It was always a cry for help for him and I just thought it was like all the other times.”
Ms Martin told Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey that her ex-partner had been treated in hospital a number of times for depression and suicidal thoughts. But she said that before he had always managed to “lift himself up again”.
Around an hour after Mr Mullan left her house that night, she saw the flashing lights of emergency services coming from the direction of the railway line at Station Road.
Mr Mullan had been run over by an engineering train on its way from Ballymena to Coleraine after normal passenger services had finished for the day.
Driver Victor Brown (38) was travelling with co-worker Raymond Dowey (59) when they both noticed something on the line as they approached the crossroads.
But with Mr Mullan lying face down and motionless, neither thought it was a person. “I thought it looked like a cushion that somebody had thrown across the rail,” Mr Dowey recalled in a statement.
Mr Brown said he made out what looked to be a pair of jeans just moments before the train passed over.
“As soon as I saw a pair of jeans I applied the emergency break and said to Raymond I think it's a man we hit,” he stated.
The coroner said the Translink workers had endured a traumatic experience. “It will take a long time to get over, if you're ever able to,” he told Mr Dowey.
A pathologist found that Mr Mullan was three-and-half times over the drink drive limit and had a cocktail of painkillers, anti-depressants and tranquillisers in his system when he died.
“The effect of those drugs with the alcohol would have affected his mental stability,” the medical report recorded.
Mr Leckey said there was sufficient evidence to indicate that Mr Mullan took his own life whilst in a “highly disturbed emotional state”.