Mystery remains over former London Tube driver who took rat poison on Saddleworth Moor, inquest concludes

Patrick Grafton-Green
CCTV footage: David Lytton was seen on camera at Manchester Piccadilly train station: PA

It remains a mystery why a former Tube driver from London travelled to Manchester before taking rat poison on a bleak moor, an inquest concluded.

David Lytton, 67, was discovered on Saddleworth Moor in Greater Manchester on December 12, 2015 prompting a massive police investigation.

An international hunt for clues sparked interest across the world as his identity remained unknown for 13 months, Rochdale Coroner's Court was told.

But on Tuesday an open verdict was recorded by Simon Nelson, senior coroner for Greater Manchester North, who said a series of "fundamental questions remain unanswered" over the death of Mr Lytton.

An artist's impression of David Lytton - found on Saddleworth Moor in December 2015 (Greater Manchester Police)

Originally from London, he flew 4,000 miles from his adopted home in Pakistan – where he moved in 2006 – and booked into a hotel for five days in London before paying for a return train ticket to Manchester.

While in Manchester he went to a pub near Saddleworth Moor, asked the landlord the way to "the top of the mountain" and wandered off into the dark to take strychnine.

He was wearing a light mac, trousers, a shirt and slip-on shoes and had no connection to Saddleworth.

Mr Lytton was discovered on a remote track on the ground above Dovestone Resevoir. He was fully clothed but with no identification on him.

Despite a mass media appeal he was only identified in January, more than a year after his death.

Mr Lytton had been in a relationship for more than 30 years with a woman, the inquest heard, but did not even tell her he was moving to Pakistan and simply left.

Another friend of his did not even know of her existence.

He had also not spoken to his only brother for more than 10 years before his death.

Though highly intelligent, he was also a complex man who "compartmentalised" his life and friendships, the inquest heard.

CCTV image: Greater Manchester Police released CCTV footage of David Lytton at Ealing Broadway station (PA)

Coroner Mr Nelson said he was satisfied there was no third party involvement in Mr Lytton's death and that he had taken the poison "by his own hand."

But he said there was no way of knowing his intention. He had booked a hotel for five nights in London, bought a return train ticket, had no connection to Dovestone Reservoir, and was "inadequately and inappropriately" dressed to go walking in winter on the moors.

And it was not known where he had got the strychnine or "his prevailing intention" before ingesting the poison.

Mr Nelson, concluding the four-hour inquest, added: "This has been an extra-ordinary case for obvious reasons.

"Sadly, notwithstanding the quite outstanding investigative work by the police, there are many fundamental questions which remain unanswered.

"He was a highly complex, private individual who tended to compartmentalise his life or not reveal or share his thoughts or future plans."

The inquest heard he had been born David Lautenberg, the family changed their name to Lauten, and he later changed his name again to Lytton, growing up in Finchley, north London.

Younger brother Jeremy Lauten described him as a "genius" who did well at grammar school and wanted to become an Oxbridge student.

But he failed to get the grades and eventually dropped out of a sociology and psychology degree at Leeds University, and became ever more "insular" and distant from his family.

He became a croupier and later a Tube driver on the London Underground - so he could spend all day in the cab on his own without speaking to people.

He had a house in Streatham but lived a "minimalist" life "unencumbered with possessions" and his home was virtually empty.

Old friend Salim Akhtar described his friend as "highly intelligent" but "very private" and a "loner" who had a "difficult" relationship with his family.

Mr Akhtar picked him up from Heathrow Airport when he returned to the UK for the last time.

In a statement, he said: "He told me he was thinking of going travelling. He was very relaxed.

"I did not hear from David again, it did not come as a surprise because that's how David was.

"He was just going off to do his own thing without any warning."

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