Politician killed himself straight after release from psychiatric unit

Michael Keith-Smith
Michael Keith-Smith
Canoe Lake

Picture: Shaun Roster

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THE same morning as he was released from a psychiatric unit, a controversial political figure leapt to his death from the top of Portchester Castle, an inquest has heard.

Michael Keith-Smith, 57, had convinced staff at the Meadows in Sarisbury Green that he was fit enough to return to his home in Castle Street, just yards from the castle, on July 3 last year.

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle

Mr Keith-Smith had been at the mental health hospital after stabbing himself in the chest on June 24.

But according to evidence heard by the inquest, Mr Keith-Smith’s behaviour and mood were believed to have markedly improved. By July 1 arrangements were being made for him to go home for the weekend with his wife.

Mr Keith-Smith’s health troubles were reported to have begun in 2008 when he was diagnosed with type two diabetes. His widow Judy said: ‘He took it very badly. He told me: “I can’t eat, I can’t drink, I can’t socialise”.’

Around the same time, his work as a chartered surveyor was cut to two days a week.

His behaviour entered a manic phase where he spent money wildly and only slept three hours a night.

‘It was all out of character – not him,’ Mrs Keith-Smith added.

In 2009 he entered a lengthy period of depression and began seeking medical help.

Dr Kuppaswamy, a consultant psychiatrist at the Meadows in 2010, said that Mr Keith-Smith was showing positive signs in late June. He said: ‘When he was asked about his self-harm, he was horrified by his previous actions. He said it was a cry for help and he wouldn’t try to do it again.

‘In the next few days he was consistently showing better interaction with team members and other service users.

‘There was no risk-taking behaviour and he was taking his medication.’

Mrs Keith-Smith picked her husband up at about 9.30am and they were home by 10am. After a cup of tea, Mrs Keith-Smith left her husband for a moment and returned to find the front door open.

When she couldn’t see her husband anywhere she immediately dialled 999.

In statements read at the inquest, two eyewitnesses said they saw Mr Keith-Smith hanging over the edge of the keep’s parapet before letting go. Police confirmed that no-one else was involved in the incident.

Assistant deputy coroner Carolyn Russell said: ‘I find that he died as the result of his own deliberate act and he intended the result would be his death.

‘I don’t think his actions were predictable.’

She recorded a verdict of suicide.

Mr Keith-Smith had been expelled from the Tory party in 2002 after creating rightist pressure group the Conservative Democratic Alliance.

In 2005’s general election he ran unsuccessfully as the UKIP candidate for Portsmouth North.