A JPMorgan Chase & Co. vice president who fell to his death from the bank’s 33-story London headquarters in January committed suicide, a coroner ruled.
Gabriel Magee, 39, had worked as a computer programmer since 2004 in the corporate and investment bank’s technology support department. The coroner, Mary Hassell, heard evidence at an inquest today in east London from witnesses including Magee’s girlfriend, a work colleague, his therapist, a police officer and employees of the New York-based bank. Magee’s father and sister attended the hearing.
The inquest into his death is the third proceeding into a bank worker’s death in the British capital in six months. Hassell presided over an inquest into the death of 21-year-old Bank of America Corp. intern Moritz Erhardt from an epileptic seizure in November, and a court heard in March about the death of William Broeksmit, a retired Deutsche Bank AG risk executive who hanged himself at his home in London.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gabriel’s family and friends,” JPMorgan said in an e-mailed statement. “We are focused on supporting our colleagues and those close to him on this very difficult day.”
Magee’s manager, Andrew Harding, said at the hearing that Magee had difficulties at work in the year before he died. The bank’s head of investigations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Jonathan Shatford, said that notes were found on Magee’s computer that mentioned jumping off a building.
Magee appeared to have gotten out on the roof of the 32nd floor by climbing a ladder and cutting a padlock on an unalarmed hatch, Shatford said. Surveillance footage shows Magee using his employee swipe card to gain access to an off-limits area that led to the roof and exploring it on at least two other occasions in November and January, Shatford said.
Paul Hollands, a police sergeant who responded to the scene, said he and Shatford found a bag, a mobile phone, a tablet computer and an empty bottle of tequila on the roof. Shatford said police also found a pair of bolt cutters buried under gravel on the roof and that he found a padlock there that had been cut.
Magee’s father, William, said the security at the office wasn’t adequate and should have detected the times he accessed the roof area.
“This negligence on the part of JPMorgan cost my son his life,” he said in a statement after the ruling.
While a company laptop Magee had used contained encrypted software he had installed, an external firm was unable to break the code so the contents weren’t examined, Shatford said.
Magee’s ex-girlfriend, Lucy Pinches, told the court that he had a “darker side” and suffered episodes of paranoia during the time they were together from 2009 to 2013. She said she had even considered getting him committed to a mental hospital.
“He said if I did that and the police were to come he would just tell them that I was exaggerating,” she said.
When they split up in January 2013 she was very concerned about him and contacted his family to tell them about it, she said.
Magee’s therapist, Maya Cooray, said she never thought that he would end his life. She saw him for 10 sessions from March to October 2013 and said he didn’t meet the criteria for mild depression.
“My impression throughout was that he was at low risk,” she said.