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Death of Christopher Baker to remain a mystery
THE death of a young man who abandoned his car near a York bridge and whose body was later found in the River Ouse will remain a mystery, a coroner has said.
Donald Coverdale said the circumstances of Christopher Baker entering the river were “strange” and would have caused great distress and worry to his family.
He said it was not known why Mr Baker, a 29-year-old trainee accountant, of Albermarle Road, South Bank, stopped his car near the Skeldergate Bridge traffic lights one morning last December, approached another motorist and then jumped over a pedestrian barrier and a wall into Tower Gardens.
Nor was it known whether he then entered the river straight away or later, or had gone in with the intention of self-harming or committing suicide, or had slipped and fallen in accidentally – which was a clear possibility.
“One can only speculate whether something had greatly upset Mr Baker... We just don’t know. Unfortunately, there are many unanswered questions,” he said, drawing an open conclusion.
The inquest was told that Mr Baker, originally from Carmarthenshire in Wales, went missing on December 20. His body was found floating in the river by John Ascough while he was steering a barge along the Ouse near the Millennium Bridge on January 19.
Gemma Carsey said in a statement that she had driven along Bishopthorpe Road on December 20 behind a car that was being driven very slowly, in the style of someone trying to find a parking place.
At the traffic lights near the bridge, the driver got out and made his way towards her car and started gesturing and shouting. She said she could not hear what he said because her radio was on but he looked “aggressive and angry” and she locked her doors and took photos of him with her phone.
He ran backwards and forwards between the two vehicles, with his hands together at one stage as if in a praying gesture, and then hopped over a barrier and a wall and disappeared from view.
Pathologist Isabelle Hanson said there were no indications of any external or internal injury on Mr Baker’s body and there were no drugs present in his blood. Asked by Mr Baker’s father if he might have suffered a brain hemorrhage, as some people had suggested, she said there was no evidence of that.
She said the cause of death was “immersion in water.”