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Narrative verdict in inquest of hanged Bideford teenager Sam Hudson

By NDJWill  |  Posted: February 28, 2013

  • Tributes to Sam on Westward Ho! beach following his death in 2011


A TEENAGE surfer hanged himself with the leash from his surfboard after his girlfriend broke up with him, an inquest has determined.
Sam Hudson was 16 when his house-mate Freddy Blick found him suspended from the leash on the landing of the house they shared in Ayres Close, Bideford, on October 1 in 2011. 
Sam, who was a member of Westward Ho! surf club, had been living with 18-year-old Freddy at the house after his mother, Amanda Dobby, moved to Cornwall with his siblings in July 2011.
Ms Dobby, who told the court she had moved because her husband had been domestically abusive, had agreed to let Sam stay with Freddy in North Devon over the summer before he planned to move to Cornwall and study an outdoor pursuits course at a college in Falmouth.
But Sam changed his mind the court heard, and opted to enrol in another course at Petroc college, in Barnstaple.
He moved into the house with Freddy in August and it was around this time his girlfriend, who is known only as Gemma because she is a juvenile, went on holiday. 
The pair, who had been together since January 2011, stayed in touch by text message but when Gemma returned she was told Sam had been seen with another girl.
She was upset and confronted Sam and it's believed she broke off their relationship.
In a statement given to police and read out in court Freddy said Sam had been upset the night before he hung himself.
"He seemed himself but I noticed the hatch to the attic was open," he said.
"He made reference to hanging himself but I didn't think anything of it because he had said similar before and nothing had happened."
Early the following morning Gemma visited Sam and when she left he was upset and crying.
Freddy put his arm around him and told him he'd be ok, before asking him if he'd like to go shopping with him. When he said no Freddy went without him.
And when he returned, around 1pm, he called out to Sam. When he heard no reply he went upstairs.
"I saw him with his head on the railing," he said. "I thought he was messing around because it wasn't like how you see it on TV, he was almost lying down.
"His face was really strange and that's when I realised he wasn't messing around."
Freddy ran outside and called for help, shouting "help, my friend's hung himself".
Help came when neighbour Adam Blyth rushed across the road. He called 999 before going into the house and helping Freddy free Sam from the leash.
Police then arrived and PC Adam Williams started CPR before paramedics joined him. 
Sam, who was still alive but not breathing, was taken to North Devon District Hospital by Air Ambulance and given extensive treatment over the next few days before it became apparent he was severely brain damaged and would not survive.
His ventilator was turned off at 2pm on October 5 and he passed away 16 minutes later.
Coroner John Tomalin recorded a narrative verdict into Sam's death.
"Clearly there were a lot of people involved in helping Sam," he said.
"It's a very sad investigation into the death of a young man and can't fail to touch the hearts of everyone involved." 
He said two notes found near Sam's body were "in the nature of a goodbye", although he opted not to read them out and said although Sam was clearly very upset he wasn't sure if he intended to take his own life.
For that reason Mr Tomalin said while it was clear Sam died of a hypoxic brain injury, caused by asphyxia due to hanging, "the question of whether he intended to kill himself remains uncertain".

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