Death of JP Morgan IT executive Gabriel Magee was suicide, coroner rues

Mr Magee had made several attempts to access a roof of the Canary Warf building before he took his life, the inquest heard

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A 39-year-old investment bank worker leapt from the top of his company's London headquarters earlier this year in order to take his life, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

Gabriel Magee had worked for JP Morgan for 10 years, when his body was found on a ninth-floor roof of the financial firm’s Canary Wharf building in east London, shortly after 8am on 28 January.

Senior Coroner Mary Hassell ruled that the US citizen's death was suicide and said JP Morgan could not have done anything to prevent it.

Mr Magee, who worked as the IT vice-president at the firm, had twice attempted to access the secure roof of the building in the weeks and months leading up to  his death. He succeeded on 27 January.

During an investigation into the incident, the firm discovered a message written on Mr Megee’s computer that day that read “jump”, while previous messages red “try to jump off building” and “hate my life”.

His ex-girlfriend Lucy Pinches told the inquest he had become increasing deluded and paranoid before their relationship ended in January 2013.

A work colleague said he once accused her of being a “white witch”.

Bill Magee speaks to the media outside Poplar Coroner's Court in east London May 20, 2014. (Reuters)

A co-worker, and his girlfriend before he died, Veronica Strande, told the inquest that his behaviour was improving after he visited a therapist to help him recover from his previous break-up.

The inquest heard he sent Miss Strande several text messages while sat drinking tequila on the roof of the building.

On Tuesday, Mr Magee’s father Bill Magee refuted the suicide verdict and asked why JP Morgan security staff did not stop his son accessing the roof.

The inquest heard that his security pass logged visits to the top floors of the building via a fire escape, but they were not analysed because his pass allowed him into those areas from his office on the ninth floor.

Mr Magee’s father said after the inquest: “He drank enough tequila that whenever he fell he may have been looking to say 'have I got the guts to do this' and fell. He could have fallen.”

He added: “Gabriel, our son, was crushed by that fall, as were the hearts of his brother and sisters and his mother and I.”

During the inquest, Mr Magee asked Jonathan Shatford, JP Morgan's head of investigations, how his son had been able to access the roof.

Mr Shatford replied that their security was focused on preventing unauthorised people getting in rather than people breaking out.

Mr Shatford said: “JP Morgan is not a prison, it is a place of work.”

He said Gabriel Magee had cut open a lock on a hatch on the fire escape, which was next to an alarmed door which would have alerted security if he had tried to open it. Bolt cutters and the broken lock were found on the roof.

Mrs Hassell agreed with Mr Shatford.

In her summing up she said Gabriel Magee had carried out a “considered act”.

She added: “JP Morgan have of course a duty of care to their employees and a duty to keep them as safe as possible.

"But there has to be a balance that is struck between the safety of employees and... not imprisoning the employees.

"If there had been a fire and any escape route had been blocked we would be here asking why that was."

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details

Additional reporting by AP