‘Gentle, kind and caring’ man jumped to his death from Seaford cliffs

Coast guard
Coast guard

A music composer jumped from the Hope Gap cliffs in Seaford in front of his parents while on a family walk.

Tom Littlewood, 35, of Court Crescent in East Grinstead, died from multiple injuries on January 13 after a history of mental health problems dating back to his paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis in 2011.

Alison and Bruce Littlewood, Mr Littlewood’s parents, said in a statement, “He was a gentle, kind and caring person with many interests and talents, most notably music and sports.

“It is possible Tom faced another episode that had just started and one he could not face.

“His diary notes do not show any hints of suicide. His mobile phone or computer might have hints as to why he did it.

“We think he did take his own life but not sure precisely why. It might have been a premeditated act.”

A spokesperson for the Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band, which Mr Littlewood was a member of, said, “Tom was one of those people at band who had a smile and a friendly or welcoming word for everyone. His loss is strongly felt by all of us, and our thoughts are with his family, to whom we send our love.”

The inquest heard how on the day of the event Mr Littlewood was walking between his parents when his mother became aware he was not there anymore.

A police statement said Mr Littlewood walked towards the cliff edge, knelt down, turned to his mother and then jumped.

The inquest heard how at the start of January 2019 Tom’s condition had deteriorated following an “okay” end to 2018, and the family would often go on long walks as a way to treat Mr Littlewood’s condition.

In the days leading up to his death, Mr Littlewood was reported to be upset after he was unable to see his sister and his parents took him to the seaside to keep his spirits up.

Mr Littlewood’s GP, Dr Sharon Pruden, said he had thoughts of a conspiracy going on against him and he should hurt himself in some instances. Dr Maha Khan, Mr Littlewood’s psychiatrist, said in a meeting on January 10, “His dad reported he had not been enjoying music and was worried about that. Mr Littlewood did not want to go to music to see people. He wanted some breathing space.”

Issues regarding psychiatric treatment were raised at the inquest, specifically about length of meetings and medication dosage.

Coroner Alan Craze said the decisions made by Dr Khan to not increase Tom’s medication were correct based on the information she had to work with.

The Coroner said, “As a parent I cannot think of anything I could find worse.

“The both of you know all to well what happened on that day.”

The Coroner recorded a conclusion of suicide.