Coroner rules train death of Hassocks teen TJ Sibley was ‘accidental’

TJ Sibley
TJ Sibley

The death of a teenager who was killed by a train was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Taylor James Sibley, 16, known as ‘TJ’, from Hassocks, died at Wivelsfield railway station on July 30 last year.

Following his death, there was speculation that TJ was being bullied at Warden Park School, where he was a pupil.

However the inquest heard that British Transport Police had investigated these allegations thoroughly, analysing TJ’s computer, and speaking to people who knew him.

Inspector Gary Ancell said: “We could find no circumstances of bullying at all.”

There was also a suggestion that TJ may have been attempting to cross the track to get to the other side of the railway station, as he was on the wrong platform.

But the investigation also found no evidence to support this hypothesis.

Coroner David Skipp concluded at the inquest at Horsham’s County Hall: “I have not found evidence that it was in his mind to take his own life and I’m not prepared to come to that as a conclusion.

“I don’t know if TJ was trying to cross the track.

“I don’t know what was in his mind.

“I can only find in my mind that this was an accident.”

Christopher Sibley, TJ’s father, was asked if there were any reasons he may have taken his own life, or if he knew of TJ being bullied.

He told the coroner’s court: “He loved school, absolutely loved school.

“School was his safety blanket.”

TJ was ‘doing OK academically’, and was waiting for his GCSE exam results.

“He was worried they wouldn’t be good enough to get him into college. They were,” his dad said.

“TJ had become more stressed about them in the last year.”

Christopher had asked TJ if he was being bullied when he had a black eye, but he said he was not.

The coroner asked Christopher if he had any concerns about TJ’s behaviour.

“No not at all. He was always smiling, always laughing and joking.

“On two or three occasions we saw another side to TJ when he seemed really stressed, but then he would be back to normal,” Christopher said.

“He was talkative, he was smashing, he was incredible actually.

“One of the kindest guys I’ve ever met.

“Friends and people who knew him said he was always there to help his friends.

“He was always smiling and joking.

“He liked football, history and music.

“If he was interested in something he was slightly obsessive.

“I would not say he was like other children, he was unique.”

TJ lived with his mother, but spent every other weekend with Christopher.

The last time Christopher saw his son ‘he was fine’.

“He was on particularly good form,” Christopher said.

Some friends of TJ have approached Christopher to explain that TJ had spoken of harming himself, but not recently.

“It was said it was a bit like the boy who cried wolf.

“No one thought he was going to do anything to himself.”

TJ died of multiple injuries, and had no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system.

On a ‘fairly deserted’ platform, TJ sat on the edge of the platform before moving down onto the track and in the pathway of the train.

The coroner said TJ was a ‘Liked, happy, unique lad’ who ‘probably got into the scraps that all 16-year-olds get into’.

“There is no evidence that TJ was under extreme pressure, that he had been bullied or that there were circumstances that would have been driving him to the point where he wished to take his own life,” he said.

“I know that he did go onto the platform and that he did, or he was placed, in front of an oncoming train.

“There was nothing to suggest why this lad took the action that he did.”

One theory regarded TJ being involved in a fight, after which TJ came home with a black eye, but inspector Ancell said it was a ‘fracas’ and ‘a bit of banter from both sides’.

The family practitioner at TJ’s school, Warden Park, reported no signs of depression.

After speaking to TJ’s friends, the inspector said he had learnt about TJ: “He certainly loved his football, loved his music, especially heavy rock music.

“He loved talking to people, he was a loving boy.

“No one had any inclinations or concerns about him.

“Everyone we have spoken to can only say good things about him.”