Aristocrat's shock over teenage son 'gun suicide'

A baronet yesterday described his shock after his teenage son apparently shot himself dead while talking to a police officer on the phone.

Alexander Codrington, the 16-year-old son of aristocrat Sir Christopher, is believed to have killed himself as armed police searched for him after he disappeared in woodland.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday opened an inquiry into officers' involvement in the incident near Witney in Oxfordshire.

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Speaking at the nearby family home, Sir Christopher said the family were still receiving information about the circumstances and relatives were too upset to comment further.

Armed response officers and the force helicopter had been sent to woodland to search for him on Friday morning.

Alexander spoke to officers on a mobile phone after a friend concerned for his welfare called Thames Valley Police, believing he was armed with a gun.

Giving details of the incident, an IPCC spokesman said: "The officer stayed on the phone to him until approximately 5.20am when, while on the phone, the officer heard a shot.

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"Alexander's body was discovered by officers a short time later. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene."

An inquest was opened and adjourned on Monday, the Oxfordshire Coroner's Office confirmed. A post-mortem examination confirmed he died of a single gunshot wound.

The IPCC is managing an investigation led by Thames Valley Police's professional standards department.

Mike Franklin, the IPCC commissioner for the South East, who is overseeing the investigation, said: "Police officers were in the area and in contact with him shortly before he died and we will therefore be examining the actions of the various officers involved to see whether anything at all could have been done differently and have prevented this tragic outcome."