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Mum's anguish at missed last chance to see son

PUBLISHED: 17:28 30 September 2009 | UPDATED: 15:53 16 August 2010

THE mother of a charming and intelligent man broke down in court as she was told there was no CCTV footage of her son just before he took his life. On July 19 last year, 41-year-old Bret Friend committed suicide by lying down in front of a train at Lon

THE mother of a 'charming and intelligent' man broke down in court as she was told there was no CCTV footage of her son just before he took his life.

On July 19 last year, 41-year-old Bret Friend committed suicide by lying down in front of a train at Longfield Station.

He had been drinking all day in Chatham with two friends, but left them in Meopham saying he wanted to go home, an inquest heard.

Mr Friend, formerly of The Approach in Orpington, stayed on the train as far as Longfield, where he took his life, but there is no CCTV footage of his death.

Speaking at an inquest at Dartford Coroner's Court last Wednesday, his distraught mother said: "I'm really upset that there was no footage of Bret at the station. I had a closed coffin for my son. I couldn't see him, I couldn't hold him. That would have given me some closure, to see his last moments.

"I just can't believe it. I am having problems coming to terms with that."

Unemployed and single, Mr Friend had a drinking problem which was exacerbated by the death of his father in 1999.

PC Andrew Thompson of British Transport Police said: "He had attended meetings with the AA but he didn't like the religious aspect of the group so he left.

"He is quoted as saying 'I am not an alcoholic but I like a drink.'"

PC Thompson added that Mr Friend loved football and was described as a charming, intelligent person.

Witness Tracy Griffin, from Church Hill Wood in Orpington, who went to Chatham with Mr Friend and mutual friend Darren Potter, said: "We got the train home and were still drinking vodka. By then, Bret was becoming a little aggressive and obnoxious."

Mrs Griffin, who had known Mr Friend for around seven years, added: "Darren wanted to stop in Meopham for another drink but Bret wanted to go back to Orpington. Me and Darren got off at Meopham without Bret and went to a pub."

Recording an open verdict, Coroner Roger Hatch said: "It is clear that he must have got off at Longfield Station and walked down the line and laid down by the train track. I am satisfied that it was his intention to take his own life.

"What explanations there are for his actions, we will never know.

"I express my sympathy to his friends and family.

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