Mystery remains over bank worker’s death fall at office

Richard Pow
Richard Pow
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A YOUNG father-to-be died in a tragic accident when he fell five floors down the middle of an internal staircase at work, an inquest heard.

Richard Pow, 26, had been dropped at work by his fiance less than two hours before he was discovered by his manager suspended upside down between the first and ground floor.

When manager Amanda Foster saw her colleague she initially didn’t recognise him and thought somebody was playing a “horrible practical joke”.

The keen sportsman – who had won £20,000 in popular game show Deal or No Deal in 2006 – had probably fallen from the fifth floor landing at some time between 8am and 9.10am on June 29, 2009, the inquest heard.

Seen by a colleague just before his death on the stairs in the large HBOS building in Leeds, Mr Pow was described as “texting frantically on his mobile phone”, but when he was found the phone was in his pocket.

An inquest at Leeds Coroner’s Court heard that it was possible he had been playing a game on his phone before he died.

An investigation found no evidence of texts or calls at the time of incident and the coroner made clear that Mr Pow wasn’t on the phone at the time of his fall.

His mother Diana described her son as “a fit and healthy young man”, with “many, many friends and the organiser of his department’s social events”.

At the time of his death, the customer service team leader was expecting a baby with fiance Eleanor Sharman, who was three months pregnant with his young son.

In her statement from November 2009, she said: “I am now eight months pregnant and we planned the baby, it is due in December. Richard was really excited about the baby.”

Coroner David Hinchliff said Mr Pow was so happy about his impending child that he had begun telling workmates, despite an agreement between him and his partner that they wouldn’t mention it until an agreed time.

He said: “It looks like he leaked the information at work before they agreed they would do that and was already showing the scan to colleagues.”

Because there were no witnesses to the accident, no-one could be sure how he had fallen between the stairs – which consisted of a metal bannister, metal struts and two lengths of thick metal rope.

Det Insp Richard Baildon speculated that it was more likely Mr Pow went under the bottom rope than over the top bannister which would have been above hip height.

He added that it was possible “that when he placed the phone back in his pocket he was not aware of his surroundings and has fallen”.

He also told the jury that Mr Pow may have tripped over his bag, which was discovered on the fifth floor.

The stairway was compliant with the building regulations of that time, the inquest heard.

The jury passed a unanimous verdict of accidental death.

Mr Hinchliff said it was “nothing more sinister” than an accident.

Mr Pow’s distraught father, David, said in a statement: “We have lost the most wonderful son a parent could have, his sister has lost her best friend and Ellie has lost her partner and the father of her child.”

His mother Diana said: “Richard was a very happy young man, no worries at all, everything to look forward to.

“It is a complete mystery to us.”