Man smiled for the train driver - then leapt to his death

RAIL staff have told of the moment they saw a man jump to his death in front of a train.

Train driver Dennis Oliver could not stop in time when Paul Morrell, 45, leapt from the platform at Sowerby Bridge station.

A Halifax inquest heard he was killed instantly by the the 11.09am York-Blackpool train.

Mr Oliver said he hit the emergency brakes but had no chance of stopping.

"It appeared to be a deliberate leap," he said.

William McAuley was managing the Northern Rail service at around 12.30pm on July 23 last year when the drama happened.

He said: "The man could not fail to see the train coming towards him. He looked straight at it before he jumped."

Rail guard Philip Naylor saw Mr Morrell, of Wharf Street, Sowerby Bridge, pacing the opposite platform.

He said he was horrified when Mr Morrell, a journalist originally from Merseyside, jumped.

"It was not until he got right to the platform edge and seemed to smile at the driver that I realised what he was going to do."

All three said the tragedy had left them needing time off and counselling.

Coroner James Turnbull heard Mr Morrell suffered psychiatric problems and delusions. He had been discharged from The Dales, at Calderdale Royal, in May 2007.

The hearing was told he was constantly monitored and when a psychiatric nurse visited him just days before, he was in good spirits.

The Coroner, who recorded a verdict of suicide, said: "Paul had all the treatment he could possibly have had and was especially carefully cared for.

"He probably had a sudden mood swing and thoughts he had entertained for many years came to his mind."

He said Mr Morrell was not in a fit state to realise the effect his actions would have on staff.