A banker jumped to his death from a rooftop London restaurant after coming under “an enormous amount of pressure” in his job, an inquest heard today.
Nico Lambrechts, 46, fell seven floors from the Coq D’Argent at No 1 Poultry in the City of London months after starting at investment bank Investec. The venue has since closed all rooftop terraces and ordered a barrier to be installed after four deaths in the last five years.
His widow wept as City of London Coroner’s Court heard how the father of three died of multiple injuries, including severe head wounds, after jumping from the terrace in October last year. He had a long phone conversation with his wife, Adele, moments before his death.
In May 2007, City employee Richard Ford died after jumping from the restaurant’s terrace onto a bus below. Two years later Deutsche Bank employee Anjool Malde, 24, killed himself at the same spot. A third person, businesswoman Rema Begum, 29, committed suicide in the same way only a month before Mr Lambrechts.
The inquest heard how Mr Lambrechets, from Cobham, Surrey, had contemplated ending his life after he was unable to transfer cash from his native South Africa to pay for school fees for his children.
The man who hired him at Investec Asset Management, Domenico Ferrini, told the court how Mr Lambrechts had moved to the firm, which was due to move back to Cape Town, on 1 July last year, after years at rival company Merrill Lynch.
“I think there were a few things he was worried about,” he told the inquest. “Relocating back to South Africa concerned him and the political climate there - was it the right thing? The transition of being very successful in his previous job, and having to re-establish himself at Investec. I tried to help him find his feet, that kind of thing.”
The City of London’s health and safety officer, Rachel Sambells, said talks were underway to raise the height of the wall on the terrace to 2m by using metal bars.
“The terraces have been closed off in the main part and a security guard has been employed to patrol the area,” she said. “If anyone is up alone up there he approaches them and makes sure they don’t have the same intention.” Volunteers from the Samaritans have also spoken to staff at the restaurant to train them in what to do if anyone tries to jump from the terraces, she added.
Coroner Dr Roy Palmer said he was sure that Lambrechts, of Hillview Place, Cobham, had intended to take his own life on 11 October and was “very sorry” that his widow had lost her husband in the tragedy. “I have to be sure, and I am sure, that he intended to die by his actions,” he said.
“You don’t fall seven floors and go over a wall without that. I do not doubt that he was seriously stressed but I conclude that he killed himself and I am very sorry that he did so in such sad circumstances,” he added.