Tributes to Neath steelworker who took his own life at Pontrhydyfen Aqueduct
A STEELWORKER who has been described as a "true gentleman" took his own life by jumping off Pontrhydyfen Aqueduct, an inquest has heard.
Peter Thomas, from Heol Derwen in Neath, died from multiple injuries after he plunged to his death from the historic Afan Valley bridge on June 7 this year.
The 57-year-old, who had worked for Tata Steel for 25 years, was described as a "highly regarded, hard- working man who was devoted to his family" at the hearing.
PC Chris Doyle, who gave evidence at the inquest, said Mr Thomas, who had two children and a grandchild, had been given the power of attorney over his mother's affairs.
He had been receiving emails from his sister who lives abroad, which PC Doyle said "began to affect Peter".
Also giving evidence at the hearing was Carl John Davies who worked with Mr Thomas. He said Mr Thomas had missed a few shifts and texted him to say he had a "few things in my head to sort out".
Mr Davies described him as a "true gentleman".
He added: "If he could help you he would.
"His nickname at work was Peter Perfect and that says it all really. He always had ways about him and he knew the industry inside out."
Mr Davies said he was "astounded" when he found out about his tragic death.
"I would never in a million years think Peter would do anything like that," he said.
"I could not believe it.
"He was a funny, down to earth guy and will be sorely missed."
Stephen Barry, who works for Eagles Taxis, was the cabbie who drove Mr Thomas to the location where he was later to take his own life that day. He said there was nothing unusual about the 10- minute journey.
"There was nothing to suggest anything whatsoever," he said. "We had the usual taxi chat."
A statement from John Charles Cunningham, who lives in Station Road in Pontrhydyfen, was read out to the court.
Mr Cunningham has a clear view of the aqueduct from his home.
He saw a man pacing and smoking on the bridge at 11.30am.
"I did not think anything of it at first because it is used regularly," he said.
But Mr Cunningham became concerned when the man remained there in the heavy rain, but then he walked out of his view.
"Nobody else was on the bridge while I was watching him," he said.
At 11.48am two men driving a van stopped underneath the aqueduct after finding his body on an embankment.
Emergency services were called but he was pronounced dead.
Neath Port Talbot Coroner Philip Rogers said a toxicology report found that Mr Thomas was not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs.
"It seems from the evidence I have heard that the issue to do with dealing with his mother's affairs and the sale of her house had affected Mr Thomas," he said.
"I don't think anybody around him would have expected that to happen.
"That is the only concern, stress or worry that affected Mr Thomas at that time.
"He had been looking forward to a family holiday with his grandson.
"It is hard to explain these matters."
Mr Rogers said that as a note was left for Mr Thomas's wife and that the high walls of the aqueduct meant he could not have fallen, he was satisfied to record a verdict of suicide.