Coroner records open verdict into tragic death of Northampton teenager

Emmerson Thompson
Emmerson Thompson

An inquest into the death of a 15-year-old Weston Favell Academy student found in a wooded area of Northampton in August has returned an open verdict.

Coroner Anne Pember could not be satisfied that ‘studious’ Emmerson Thompson intended to take his own life after he went missing on Friday, August 1, after reports from teaching staff and friends showed the teenager had been withdrawing from school life in the run up to his death.

His body was found in a picturesque wooded area at Weston Mill, near Riverside Retail Park, on August 4, following a three-day search which saw thousands take part in a social media appeal to trace him.

Returning the verdict, Mrs Pember said there was no direct indication that Emmerson was “feeling suicidal” in his final days.

“I’m not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he wanted to end his life,” she said. “And from the evidence I have heard I cannot say that this was accidental. Therefore I have to conclude an open verdict.”

The inquest heard details from four witnesses including his father, Andrew Thompson, of Stimpson Avenue, Abington.

Mr Thompson said Emmerson had begun to experience headaches around 2011, which later developed into migraines.

In a statement read out at court he said his son always had a lot of friends and he and Emmerson’s mother Alison were often giving him lifts to friends’ houses.

In January of this year, staff at Weston Favell Academy contacted Mr Thompson to say Emmerson had been withdrawing from lessons and would often sit alone during lunchtimes, the court heard.

Emmerson had developed a habit of laughing to himself, which had caused the school some concern.

In the week before his death the teenager was initially quiet on a family trip to Derbyshire, but seemed to improve throughout the day and ‘enjoy it immensely’, Mr Thompson said.

“From my perspective he was a normal teenage boy,” the father added. “He was polite and never got into trouble.”

Mrs Pember read out a statement written one of Emmerson’s best friends, who discovered his body on August 4.

Weston Mill was a place the two would often go together and the friend had decided to search that area at around 1.45pm of that day.

“A short period ago he went, what I would describe as ‘funny’,” the statement read. “He stopped trying at lessons and didn’t turn up to exams.

“A few friends were telling teachers that they were worried.

Pathologist Doctor Frances Hollingbury conducted the postmortem on Emmerson’s body. Giving evidence at the inquest she said it was likely the 15-year-old had died shortly after his disappearance on August 1 and found no evidence of foul play.