A window cleaner who had an affair with a married woman killed himself after his friend posed as his ex-lover and bombarded him with texts as a “childish prank”, an inquest heard.
Jeremy Brown, 38, stepped out in front of a train on September 14 last year after receiving dozens of text messages purporting to be from his former mistress.
Mr Brown, a self-employed window-cleaner from Evesham, Worcs., had been cheating on his wife Sarah, 32, with a married woman before confessing the affair last March.
An inquest heard Mrs Brown agreed to take her husband back but said he received a series of text messages which had “haunted” him and sent him “downhill.”
Before he came clean to his wife, Mr Brown confided in his best pal Grant Owen, who he had been friends with for 12 years.
Just months after Mr Brown admitted to his wife about the affair, Mr Owen bought a new SIM card and sent him spoof text messages while he was drunk pretending to be from his ex-mistress.
Giving evidence at the hearing at Worcester Coroners Court, Mrs Brown said: “The affair was over by the end of April and we had been working on the relationship.
“August had been a really good month but the texts sent Jeremy downhill.”
“He would cry himself to sleep.
“He frantically tried to find out where they came from.”
Mr Brown was so tormented by the texts he made two suicide attempts and even told his wife he would kill himself by throwing himself under a train.
He died after being struck by the London Paddington to Great Malvern train on the Littleton and Badsey level crossing, near Evesham, at about 1.10pm on Friday, September 14.
Mr Owen told the inquest he sent the text messages as a “childish prank”.
He said: “I thought if he could not get in contact with that number he would realise it was us messing about.
“I was expecting a call from him and never got it.
“In hindsight, I probably should have let him know.”
Mr Owen, 32, who now lives in Sheffield, sent a string of saucy texts to tormented Mr Brown a month before he killed himself.
He told the inquest: “For the first message I think we put something like, ‘Hi this is my new number. Miss you’, then a kiss.”
Mr Brown then replied “Who is this?” before later asking if it was ‘Sian’ the woman he had been sleeping with.
Mr Owen added: “I think we sent back a kiss or ‘yeah’. One or the other, or both.”
After Mr Brown said he was going to bed Mr Owen wrote a message wishing him “sweet dreams” and saying “dream of me naked”.
Mr Brown, who had a two-year-old son with wife Sarah, discovered the text messages were a prank just days before he killed himself.
Family friend Chris Furlong said: “He realised that the texts which he believed were being sent by Sian were not being sent by her.
“He found this out towards the end (of his life).
“Jeremy was very up when he and Sarah were making a go of it in the summer but in the last few weeks he was very down.
“Whether finding out the text messages were being sent as a joke sent him over the edge we will never know.”
Jeremy ran a window cleaning business which he took over from his father Ernest, 73, when he retired.
Worcestershire deputy coroner Marguerite Elcock launched a blistering attack on Mr Owen after he insisted the texts were supposed to be a joke.
She said: “I am struggling to understand how you thought he would understand it was you and your friend messing about rather than Sian engaging in a romantic conversation.”
She add that the actions were not those of a friend and were “at the very least remarkably juvenile”.
Neighbours of Mr Brown told yesterday how the popular window cleaner had fought to save his marriage to Sarah.
One said: “The couple were lovely, they obviously had their difficulties and I understand the other woman Sian was a friend of Sarah’s.
“It must have taken a lot for Sarah to forgive both her husband and her friend for betraying her but she wanted to make it work and I understand from talking to her that Jeremy wanted the same.
“To be getting these suggestive text messages, thinking and believing they were from Sian must have sent Jeremy over the edge and messed with his mind.
“It is just so tragic that a stupid, playground joke has cost a man his life and a woman her husband.”
The inquest heard witnesses watched in horror as Mr Brown “calmly” stepped out in front of the train.
Train driver Peter Allen said the train was travelling at the speed limit of 75mph when he saw Mr Brown.
Despite sounding the horn several times and applying the brake, Mr Brown remained on the track.
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Brown said: “He was loved and will be missed by all the family and friends.”
A post-mortem test has showed Mr Brown suffered multiple injuries and massive cerebral trauma but he had not been under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
A jury returned a verdict of suicide.
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