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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Solicitor Vincent Buffoni threw himself in front of a tube train - mind disturbed, not suicide - antidepressants

Solicitor Vincent Buffoni threw himself in front of a tube because he could "no longer afford to send his children to private school," a coroner's court heard on Friday.

Buffoni, whose brother Peter committed suicide three years ago, had already remortgaged the family home to raise £60,000 to continue paying for his children's school fees, which were costing the family nearly £30,000 a year.

When the law firm Buffoni owned was hit by the recession, the immigration lawyer contemplated taking his life. The inquest at Southwark Coroner's Court, London, heard the 49-year-old wrote a suicide note and took out a life insurance policy earlier this year, but had decided against killing himself.

As he plunged deeper into debt, Buffoni started taking the anti-depressant venlafaxine, and according to his sister Clare, his mood "had improved" in the days before his death in May.

But one morning, Buffoni left his Woking home and caught the train to Waterloo and instead of taking the tube to his office in Islington, travelled to Lambeth North station.

According to police he lingered on the platform, before deciding to throw himself in front of an oncoming tube.

"The next train entered the station and he jumped down onto the tracks and into its path", PC Steve Tucker told the court.

"The train driver immediately applied the emergency brake, but was completely powerless to stop."

Formerly educated at Marlborough College, Buffoni had been taking anti-depressants during the year before his death. His wife Nicola, 50, told the coroner he had also been on prescription sleeping tablets, upon which he feared he had become over-reliant.

"His business had been hit by the recession and he was very concerned about our financial situation," she continued.

"To ensure our son could complete his education we had taken out an additional loan of £60,000 secured on our house. He continued insisting we would have to sell our house and send our children to state school in order to survive on a dwindling cash pot."

In February, Buffoni had asked to be admitted to a psychiatric treatment centre "for his own safety". According to the Daily Mail, Buffoni's wife told the court she feared the new medication could have been responsible for his suicidal impulses - but doctors argued the drugs had been administered in accordance with guidelines.

Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said there was "insufficient evidence" to record a suicide verdict and concluded Buffoni had killed himself while his mind was "disturbed".

"It does appear to have been a very impulsive, sudden and unexpected thought that passed through his brain", she added.

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