Inquest: tragic conclusion to hunt for St Albans man

Missing David Edmunds

Missing David Edmunds - Credit: Archant

A huge search by volunteers and a massive social media campaign ended in tragedy when a St Albans man was found hanging in woodland.

David, known to friends as “Edd”, Edmunds, 35, of Maple Avenue, was last seen on CCTV footage captured at Homebase on Griffiths Way at 4.10pm on Thursday January 14.

He had returned home afterwards but left later that evening without his car and any cash, and friends and family soon became concerned and contacted the police.

A major awareness campaign was launched on social media and news websites, and details were also promoted by the Missing Persons charity.

Over the next few days officers were joined by volunteers in carrying out searches across the New Greens area, including woods on Toulmin Drive, but tragically David’s body was found in secluded woodland on the Redbourn Road, not far from the former Punch Bowl pub, on the afternoon of January 20.

An inquest this week heard how David had a history of depression dating back to 2006, and although he went through stages when he seemed to be coping normally, further episodes could be triggered by events in his life.

He had last seen his GP on January 11 after a recent increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and his dosage of medication was increased, but he died before a follow-up review.

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David’s wife said he had been off work recently, but because he seemed to be coping she agreed to go away on a pre-arranged visit to her mother with their children on January 14, while he would remain at home to deal with outstanding DIY jobs.

Although she tried to call him the next day she was not unduly concerned, and as she had his mobile phone because her’s was broken she did not worry about being unable to contact him. But he was not home when his father visited the next day and was eventually reported missing on January 17.

Det Sgt Karen Lewis from St Albans told the inquest that David had withdrawn £20 from the BP station in Folly Lane at 3.15pm on January 14, was spotted again in Holywell Hill at 4.01pm, and then seen on CCTV footage at Homebase, where he bought a tow rope and anti-freeze.

On January 20 police received a call from a member of the public who had discovered David’s body near Punchbowl Lane, and Det Sgt Lewis attended the scene. There were no signs of a struggle and he was identified from his driving licence.

A post mortem examination carried out by pathologist Dr Paul Richmond found evidence of expected levels of anti-depressants, but no alcohol or unusual substances, and recorded the cause of death as suspension.

Herts deputy coroner Graham Rollason said he was satisfied David deliberately intended that his actions would prove fatal, especially given his background history of depression, and recorded a verdict that he took his own life.

He added that the family should not blame themselves for not picking up on signs of his intentions as it was likely David went out of his way to conceal them, and concluded by offering his condolences.