A YOUNG dad who tried to kill his little daughter by running with her in front of a high-speed train near Doncaster was filled with hatred for his ex-partner.
Richard Straw died instantly – but three-year-old Scarlett survived the 70mph collision at a farm crossing at Adwick-le-Street in July last year.
When police went to the 28-year-old warehouseman’s home in Wellington Grove, Bentley, they found interior walls and doors covered in vitriolic graffiti about his ex, Samantha Roberts.
The day before his death, Mr Straw learned she had been seen with his friend, Lee Bacon – whose house he was also suspected of setting alight in an arson attack.
A letter he had written condemning Ms Roberts for the affair was found in his car parked near the railway line where he and Scarlett were hit by the London to Leeds express.
He wrote: “I’m having Scarlett, she’s coming with me, far, far away from you. Can’t wait for the train to come.”
Det Con Ian Grice told the Doncaster inquest there was ‘extensive graffiti’ on the walls and doors of his house, expressing hatred for Ms Roberts and making references to Scarlett ‘coming with him’.
“The writing was obviously the work of someone not thinking straight. It was quite disturbing,” he said.
“There were also references to people ‘trying to frame him’ for something he didn’t do.” Mr Straw was said to fear a long jail sentence for the fire at Mr Bacon’s house in Sprotbrough.
Ms Roberts said the couple had lived together for four years, but their relationship began to break down in April 2011. She said he could not accept things were over when she left him to live with her mum.
On July 11 last year, she was due to take Scarlett to buy her first school uniform but Mr Straw turned up pleading to take the child out to the park for a couple of hours.
“He promised she’d be back in time for 12 o’clock,” she said. “He was calmer than he had been the previous day, he seemed happy. He told Scarlett to say goodbye to mummy.”
When he didn’t return for midday Ms Roberts began to worry, and was searching for them at his house when police turned up to break the shocking news.
“I read some of the messages on the staircase just as the police turned up,” she said. “It was all hatred towards me. There was something about Scarlett going with him.”
Ms Roberts said her relationship with Mr Bacon was ‘nothing serious’ – and Mr Straw told her he had started the fire, and then retracted it.
Her sister, Stephanie Roberts, said he told her he was worried about going to prison and not seeing Scarlett, and ‘didn’t want someone else to be her dad’.
Train driver David Dobson said Mr Straw was ‘running fast’ as he shot out in front of the train holding his daughter on his left hip.
“It was apparent he intended to jump in front of the train,” he said. “It was a deliberate act.”
Scarlett was treated in hospital for serious abdominal and leg injuries but has recovered enough to start school.
Coroner Nicola Mundy said it was apparent Mr Straw was having difficulties coming to terms with the breakdown of his relationship, exacerbated by his belief Ms Roberts was in another relationship.
“The note in the footwell of his car refers to taking Scarlett with him far, far away from her mother, and telling his former partner to start again.
“He was being investigated for the arson and was fearful that might led to imprisonment and further losing touch with his daughter.”
The coroner recorded a verdict that Mr Straw took his own life, and gave Scarlett her best wishes for the future.