Essex man, 64, fell to his death after climbing on to Ipswich flat balcony 'fearing for his safety'

Gary Henderson
Ian Henderson died after falling from a balcony in Ipswich. Credit: Suffolk Police

A man who fell to his death from the balcony of a third-floor flat as he tried to climb down the outside of the building was "fearing for his safety", an inquest heard.

Gary Henderson, 64, had arrived at the property in Duke Street, Ipswich, with Timothy Gill, who knew the flat's occupant.

An inquest heard that a party had been taking place in the flat with six people there in total but three later left, leaving just Mr Henderson, Karl Horsnell and Rebecca Hibble, the occupant.

At some point, Mr Henderson, from Harwich in Essex, went on to the balcony, climbed over the rails, and tried to climb down the building when he fell.

Maintenance man Mr Henderson was pronounced dead by paramedics at 2.36am on 24 June 2020.

Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley recorded Mr Henderson's medical cause of death as severe traumatic head injuries.

The block of flats at Duke Street in Ipswich Credit: ITV News Anglia

Giving evidence to the inquest, Det Insp Matthew Connick, of Suffolk Police, said: "I believe Gary ended up on that balcony because he was in fear of what was happening inside that flat."

Mr Henderson's cousin Paul Henderson, who attended the inquest, asked the officer if he believed that the "flat door had been blocked to Gary or he felt too fearful to go to the door".

Det Insp Connick said: "I think in terms of what his options may have been to him he seemed to think the balcony was the best option to him rather than walking past Karl Horsnell (who was also in the flat) and Rebecca Hibble."

He added that witnesses reported that Mr Henderson had said "I'm not going back in there because of them".

The officer said three people - Mr Horsnell, Ms Hibble and Mr Gill - were initially arrested on suspicion of murder, with Mr Gill released.

Mr Horsnell and Ms Hibble were re-arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, before they were also released without charge.

Asked by Mr Henderson if it was "Horsnell creating that atmosphere of aggression" inside the flat, Det Insp Connick told the inquest: "That's correct."

Other witnesses reported hearing a woman urging someone to get off the railings and come back into the flat.

Recording a narrative conclusion, the coroner said: "Gary Henderson died when, fearing for his safety, he climbed over the balcony of a third-floor flat and while attempting to climb down lost his footing and fell to the ground below."

Mr Parsley said that a "small amount of blood" was found next to the sofa where Mr Henderson had been inside the flat.

"What caused Gary to fear for his safety or caused his blood to be present in the flat or what occurred immediately prior to him climbing out couldn't be ascertained on the available evidence," he said.

A post-mortem examination recorded that Mr Henderson had 313 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, which was "likely to result in an extreme degree of intoxication in an average social drinker".

The legal alcohol limit for driving in England is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Mr Henderson's sister, Kim Henderson, said in a statement read to the inquest that her brother "had a very good character but was a bit naive as he thought everybody was his friend".

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