Solihull accountant fell to death from New York apartment one week into US placement

A Solihull accountant who fell to his death on a business placement to New York had committed suicide, a coroner ruled.

Duncan Hodgetts, a tax advisor at Ernst & Young in Birmingham, died on 6th April last year after falling from his 14th floor New York apartment.

His body was discovered by hotel staff on the third floor balcony of the Michelangelo hotel in Manhattan.

The 25-year-old had been a week into a business placement in the USA with the international firm when the tragedy took place.

Coroner Louise Hunt recorded a verdict of suicide at an inquest at Birmingham Coroner’s Court.

It heard that Mr Hodgetts had previously suffered with anxiety and panic attacks. He also confided in his manager that he had tried to take his own life in August 2013, went on to have counselling and was prescribed medication for anxiety and depression.

His brother Matthew told the coroner: “Duncan loved foreign travel and going on trips with Ernst & Young.

“He did a lot of cooking, and was a very hard worker.

“Mum and I saw him for lunch on March 15. I thought he was a little bit quiet, but he was often quiet.”

Mr Hodgetts had worked at the firm since August 2011. Colleague Aqsa Amir, who was mentored by him from July 2014, said he had seemed ‘teary and upset’ before he had flown out to New York on 29th March 2015. He said “I met Duncan the first day of work, he was my mentor.

“Initially he seemed quite bubbly, quite chatty and funny. But over the next few months there was a change, and by January he was suddenly reserved, quiet and kept himself to himself.

“In the last day in the office he was teary. He said he felt like this a few years ago and he got over it. I suggested that he speak to one of the partners.

“He seemed overwhelmed, and I was quite worried and it crossed my mind that he should speak to someone.

“He was quite shaky and anxious.”

The inquest heard on the day before his death he had visited the Rockefeller Center in New York with colleague Sophie Cooke, who also lived in the Executive Plaza building on West 51st street.

She explained that she had phoned and texted Mr Hodgetts when he failed to turn up for a meeting the next morning – and was later informed of his death by an NYPD police officer.

Coroner Louise Hunt said as she recorded a verdict of suicide: “It is an awful tragedy.

“He had been offered a placement in New York, and he was obviously a very bright man who was succeeding.

“But he also was the type of man who kept things to himself.

“To Aqsa he did seem more upset than to others.

“None of us can understand what you are going through at this awful, awful time.

“My thought are with you at this tragic time.”

* Anyone having suicidal thoughts, or in need of help, can call the Samaritans free number on 116 123 or visit

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