Mother died with her son after attempting suicide three times

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The Independent Online

A mother who jumped to her death with her 12-year-old son from the Humber Bridge was having trouble coping with his learning difficulties and was concerned he would be taken from her, an inquest has heard.

Alison Davies, 41, had a history of depression and had tried to kill herself three times before. But the inquest into the tragedy in April last year, heard that her son Ryan, who had a hereditary condition called Fragile X Syndrome, had become more difficult to handle as he approached his teenage years and was in a "love-hate" relationship with his mother.

The court was told that Fragile X Syndrome causes learning difficulties and behavioural problems. As a result, the boy could be easily led and would not have appreciated any sense of danger on the bridge with his mother. After a day-long inquest yesterday, the Hull coroner, Geoffrey Saul, ruled that Ms Davies, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, took her own life and that she had unlawfully killed her son.

The coroner said: "On the totality of the evidence I have heard, I am satisfied so that I feel sure the events on the bridge leading to Ryan's death amount to unlawful killing.'' Referring to Ms Davies, he added: "I am satisfied, so far as I feel sure, that she did intend to take her own life."

After the hearing, in a statement issued on behalf of Ryan's uncle and aunt, Andrew and Lindsey Cook, a spokeswoman for the Fragile X Society said: "We love Alison and Ryan and miss them as much today as we did four months ago. We celebrate their lives and cry tears of joy and sadness for their untimely passing.

"We do not blame Alison for what she did. She loved Ryan so much and she tried so hard. Her bank of resilience had been depleted. She deserved more happiness than she got. She was a wonderful mother."

The hearing was told that Ms Davies was becoming increasingly concerned about suggestions that her son might be placed in care.

In a statement read to the court, her mother, Ann Davies, said her daughter had attempted suicide on three occasions, once when she was a child and twice as an adult. Mrs Davies said her daughter had become more depressed and struggled with her son's behaviour. She said: "She felt like a prisoner in her own home due to the care Ryan demanded of her and his deteriorating behaviour."

Mr Cook told the court Ms Davies had become particularly concerned about Ryan being taken into care, adding: "That just wasn't what Alison wanted at all."

Ms Davies had split from her son's father and suffered from bouts of depression, sometimes requiring hospital admission. At one point, she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Relatives found a note at her home in Stockport telling them she intended to harm herself and was heading for the Humber Bridge.

A HGV driver, Terrence Jewell, said he had seen the couple on the bridge. "She was holding him over the river side of the barrier. He drew his knees up." Mr Jewell said at the time he thought they were "playing about". Another driver, David Wilson, said Ryan was not displaying any signs of fear or distress.

Earlier, a consultant paediatrician, Peter Berchtold, had told the court Ryan would have no sense of fear, because of his condition. He would have accepted what his mother was doing, possibly thinking it was an adventure. He would have gone along with it.

In a written statement, a GP, Dr Andrew Johnson, said he was told by police that Ryan had jumped off the bridge first and had not been pushed.