A "thoughtful, considerate" dad with mental health issues died after he fell from a bridge before being hit by a car, an inquest has heard. Richard Pring died after he was hit by a car after falling from a bridge on the M4 between junctions 34 Miskin and 35 Pencoed in the early hours of Saturday, February 13, 2021. The i ncident involved three vehicles and saw the road closed for nearly ten hours.
An inquest at Pontypridd Coroner's Court on Wednesday, November 9 heard cocaine was found in Mr Pring's system after he died and that he had previously sought help for addiction issues. It heard he had suffered from mental health issues including undiagnosed depression and had previously had suicidal thoughts before he died.
Mr Pring, 34, of Llanharry, was described as a "thoughtful, considerate person who would do anything for anybody." He was described as having "idolised" his nine-year-old son who he loved playing PlayStation with, and was also an avid football and long-term fan of Cardiff City.
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Statements read in court on Wednesday heard Mr Pring had made a number of distressed phone calls to friends and family in the hours before he died, including telling them he was hallucinating and "couldn't cope". A statement read on behalf of his friend Jason Morris said Mr Pring had asked him to borrow his car to pick up a phone for his partner the evening before he died. Mr Morris said he agreed and that Mr Pring went to an address in Maesteg, but he later found out he had been buying drugs. He said he recalled Mr Pring telling him he had drank 48 cans of cheap energy drinks in the previous days and was complaining of pains in his stomach.
In the early hours of February 13, Mr Morris said Mr Pring messaged him asking him if he could "see things moving." He said he believed his friend was hallucinating and went over to his house to check on him. There he said Mr Pring told him he had taken cocaine and took out a bag of white powder before Mr Morris convinced him not to use it.
He said Mr Pring seemed more relaxed after that and told him to go home, which he eventually did after 2am. However, two hours later he said his friend rang him sounding "terrified" and "like a scared child." He later rang Mr Pring who told him he could see "cars and railings." Aware that he lived close to the M4, Mr Morris said he became worried and went looking for his friend on the bridges near the motorway, but was later informed that police had found his body in the early hours of February 13.
A statement from Mr Pring's long-term partner Jade Griffiths said the pair had been together for eight years. She described their relationship as "strong and happy" until around three years ago when he began taking cocaine. She said this was incompatible with what she said was his addictive personality and that he started taking money and lying to her, which impacted their relationship. She said Mr Pring, a factory worker, "could no longer hold down a job" and lost his job due to drug issues.
Ms Griffiths said her partner lost his driving licence in late 2020 and stopped using drugs and that she noticed an improvement in him after that, saying he began to spend more time with her and his son, who he has from a previous relationship. But she said Mr Pring's mood deteriorated again in January 2021 when he was told a job he had applied for had been filled, which led to him spending "almost all of January in bed."
Ms Griffiths said she felt reassured when on February 10 – just days before his death – Mr Pring told her he was going to B&Q with Mr Morris. But she said when he later came back it appeared he had been taking drugs and she became worried about him again.
On the night before he died Ms Griffiths said she was at work when she received a number of distressing phone calls from her partner claiming he was seeing things in both their bedroom and outside his son's room. She said she was initially sceptical and was still "annoyed" at him after finding out he had been taking drugs but later got a call at 4.55am from him crying. She said she had "never heard him like this before and added: "He was screaming and saying that he couldn't make them stop and that they were everywhere."
Ms Griffiths became aware Mr Pring was not at home and told him her mother Rachael was on the way to get him, and asked him to go home. But when she left work and returned home at around 5.30am on February 13 she said she could hear shouting coming from near a fence which separated their estate from the M4. Recognising the voice as her partner's, she walked along the alleyway towards the fence and found officers from South Wales Police who told her to return home and that they were trying to help Mr Pring who was leaning over a bridge above the main road. She was later told his body had been found.