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West End Extra - by TOM FOOT
Published: 7 September 2007
Inquest verdict shocks family and friends of popular judge

Coroner rejects ‘fanciful’ scenarios, ruling that suicide was cause of death

A JUDGE “leapt” to his death from the third floor of his home in Pimlico, an inquest heard.
Rodney McKinnon, a popular and respected justice at Southwark Crown Court, was in June found face down in the forecourt of exclusive Dolphin Square.
The 64-year-old died from multiple injuries.
Westminster Coroner Dr Paul Knapman ruled said: “No coroner will be popular when pronouncing suicide.
“But I say he killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed.”
Judge McKinnon presided over many high profile cases and made legal history when he and his brother Warwick were sworn in as judges in 1998.
It was the first time siblings were appointed to the circuit bench on the same day.
The suicide verdict shocked Warwick McKinnon who had given evidence to the contrary.
During the inquest he said: “I don’t believe it was suicide, neither do any of my family, nor any of my friends. Rodney was not a man to act on impulse. Yes, he was depressed – but not suicidal.”
He added: “Suicide must not be presumed; it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. There is not enough evidence to fill the standard of proof.”
Justice Warwick McKinnon had told the court that no suicide note had been left and that his brother was looking forward to the return of his girlfriend from her travels.
He suggested to Dr Paul Knapman three “scenarios” to counter any suicide claim.
* That he fell while cleaning the windows.
* That he fell while chasing a document that had blown out of the window.
* That he had gone onto the ledge to see if the fall would indeed kill him.
Dr Knapman described these three scenarios as “fanciful”.
He pointed to a report from Rodney McKinnon’s GP revealing how plagued with depression and anxiety the judge had been forced him into an early retirement and was no longer able to play his beloved golf.
Disillusioned after a series of bad reactions to medication, Mr McKinnon stopped taking his medication one month before his death.
Dr Knapman in summary emphasised the 30-foot distance between the window and where the judge landed in the forecourt. To get that far from the window, the coroner concluded, would have required a “mighty leap”.
Belgravia detective superintendent Richard Godefroy, in CID for 25 years, agreed. He said: “I think it is entirely wrong to say he just fell. In my opinion, it was a deliberate act.”
After the hearing Mr McKinnon declined to comment on Dr Knapman’s verdict saying only “I’m glad this is over.”
The life of Rodney McKinnon was celebrated in a special memorial service in Southwark Crown Court in July.

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