A FAMILY has spoken of their relief after an inquest ruled their son’s death as misadventure after he climbed up an electricity pylon ‘to clear his mind’.
An inquest at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard that 24-year-old Kieran Smith was found four weeks after he went missing from his Fareham home.
Kieran, of Harcourt Road, was found dead next to an H-shaped electricity pylon in Ranvilles Lane, in Fareham, on April 8. He had gone missing from his family home on March 10.
Yesterday coroner David Horsley ruled his death as misadventure.
Kieran’s mother Linda Payne said: ‘It is the correct verdict. It is the verdict that we always thought.
‘I never thought that he did it on purpose, people always thought that but I did not believe it. This is closure for us.’
Kieran, an unemployed labourer whose nickname was Jibba, had climbed a 90ft telephone mast next to the railway line in Cosham the day before he went missing.
He was talked down by police, and subsequently arrested for causing an obstruction of an engine and possession of a small amount of cannabis.
Custody sergeant PC Dorian Chapman said: ‘I asked him if he was going to be okay on release and he said he just wanted to go and see his mum.’
Mr Horsley questioned why Kieran was let out of custody on bail without a mental health care package being put in place.
PC Chapman said that Kieran had been assessed as a level one, without risk of harming himself or others. Asked why he did not rate him higher, PC Chapman said: ‘I trust the team I work with.’
Nurse Teresa Lohmeier assessed Kieran while he was in custody.
She said: ‘He said to me that he knew it was wrong and that he did not have any intention of harming himself but that he needed to get some attention.’
Kieran was released on bail and taken home, only to go missing the next day, prompting his family to launch a huge search. After weeks of agony, their worst fears were realised when Kieran’s body was found by an electrical engineer in undergrowth next to an electricity transponder.
Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri, who examined Kieran’s body, said Kieran had been dead for about three weeks.
He said that Kieran had died from an immediate cardiac arrest, as a result of electrocution.
He said there was no alcohol in his system, but there was evidence that he had smoked small amount of cannabis and taken paracetamol.
Howard Payne, Kieran’s stepfather, said the family had found a legal high called Crystal Charge in Kieran’s room, of which some had been taken.
However Dr Al-Badri said it was not possible to tell if Kieran had taken a legal high a few days before.
Mr Horsley ruled Kieran‘s death as due to misadventure. He said: ‘He has climbed the transponder to settle there and clear his mind. Unfortunately he has come into contact with live cables and he has been electrocuted.’
After the inquest hearing, Supt Paul Bartolomeo from Hampshire police said: ‘The IPCC was content that Hampshire Constabulary conducted its own review of the circumstances and shared its findings with Kieran’s family and the coroner.
‘The review report highlighted a number of lessons which may have aided the Police Search Advisor strategy to locate Kieran’s body. These lessons will be shared amongst operational officers and staff.
‘The report also recommended that officers regularly review risk levels allocated to missing people, that we ensure that family members are given third-party support service contact details, and that a single point of contact for families is appointed in those cases that span some time.
‘Our thoughts remain with Kieran’s family at this difficult time.’
Complaint about police handling brings about procedure changes
HAMPSHIRE Constabulary says it has learnt lessons following the death of 24-year-old Kieran Smith.
Processes within the force have been changed, after the missing person appeal was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The family were upset as Kieran had been arrested the day before for climbing a 90ft telephone mast, but the police only rated the missing person appeal as a medium-risk.
They were also unhappy as a series of missed opportunities meant that Kieran was not found for four weeks.
Detective Sergeant Robert Spall was called in to investigate. He said that unconfirmed sightings had been given too much weight, and that searches had not been co-ordinated effectively.
Sgt Spall told coroner David Horsley that changes to procedures, as well as extra training, had been introduced.
PC Huw Griffiths, the force’s mental health lead, said a liaison service had been brought in at police stations in April, which meant mental health nurses are available round the clock.
How the events of Kieran’s disappearance unfolded
n March 9 – Kieran cycles to Cosham and climbs a 90ft telephone mast. He is up there for more than two hours while a police negotiator talks him down. He is arrested for causing an obstruction to a railway engine and possession of cannabis. He is taken to Portsmouth police station, where he is assessed by a nurse. Kieran tells her that he did the stunt for attention. He is released on bail.
n March 10 – Kieran goes missing from his home in Harcourt Road, Fareham. A huge search is launched by his family, and it is shared extensively on social media. Neighbour Deborah Ormand sees him in their road at about midday, and local landowner Andrew Stretton sees him heading towards Ranvilles Lane shortly after.
n March 20 – Further reports of Kieran being in Asda and at the Crown Pub emerge, however these later turn out to be incorrect. Trolls also target the family’s Facebook page.
n March 23 – Kieran’s family appeal for help from Ranvilles Lane, where he was last seen.
n April 8 – Scottish and Southern Energy surveyor Robert Britton discovers Kieran’s body at 8am as he works on a transformer covered in vegetation in Ranvilles Lane. Dog walker Phil Autton confirms it is a body.