‘Outstanding’ student fell to death while hiding from police at illegal lockdown party

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
Thomas Duncan Miller (centre) fell to his death from the roof of a house at an party held during lockdown. (BPM Media)
Thomas Duncan Miller (centre) fell to his death from the roof of a house at an party held during lockdown. (BPM Media)

A student at a party during lockdown fell to his death while hiding from police on a roof, an inquest has heard.

Thomas Duncan Miller, known as Tom, attended what was described as an "end of year Christmas party" with a friend in Tennyson Street, Nottingham, in December.

Up to 18 people attended the party at a student residence, and there had been "concerns about COVID regulations from the start", the inquest at Nottingham's Council House heard.

PC Kate Gledhill, who led the investigation, said there were “whispers going round" that the police were "going to issue COVID tickets", and there was a "ripple effect" at the gathering.

"Everyone [had] hidden in different parts of the house," PC Gledhill said, adding: "Tom hid on the roof."

The party took place when the city was under Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, which meant people were forbidden from meeting socially indoors or in most outdoor places with people they did not live with or who were not in their support bubble.

Thomas Duncan Miller died after falling from the roof of a building on Tennyson Street, Nottingham. (Google)
Thomas Duncan Miller died after falling from the roof of a building on Tennyson Street, Nottingham. (Google)

Giving evidence at the inquest into Mr Miller's death, PC Gledhill said: "I know he did walk up the stairs and, just before the top floor, there is a small landing – you can climb out of a very small window."

Mr Miller, 24, made his way up, the court heard, and “filmed himself up there”, while also sending videos and texts via WhatsApp while on the roof.

Mr Miller, who had been studying business management at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and had signed a professional contract with Nottingham Rugby Club just days before his death, asked a friend to join him on the roof.

No one was making "sensible decisions", PC Gledhill said, saying the friends were "in high spirits”.

However, the friend began to slip and the pair became "entangled with each other", which is how they came to fall.

Police previously said a 21-year-old man who was involved in the fall sustained non-life threatening injuries.

PC Gledhill said there was nothing to suspect any criminal activity had taken place, saying: "I think this is, at the end of the day, an accident."

The inquest was told Mr Miller died "as a result of injuries sustained in a fall from height”.

Thomas Duncan Miller's inquest was held at Nottingham's Council House. (Smashman/Creative Commons/Wikipedia)
Thomas Duncan Miller's inquest was held at Nottingham's Council House. (Smashman/Creative Commons/Wikipedia)

Assistant coroner Laurinda Bower recommended a conclusion of accidental death.

David Ross, head of rugby union at NTU Sport, said that Mr Miller “was the very definition of the phrase ‘lead by example’”.

He added: "Tom was loved by all who knew him and his infectious smile and enthusiasm for life shone through in everything that he did…

"Tom was an outstanding role model and leader within our rugby programme and will be sadly missed by his rugby brothers and the wider sporting community.”

More than £52,000 has been pledged to a fundraising page set up to continue Mr Miller’s support for the Oddballs charity.

His family confirmed on the page that Mr Miller was on organ donor. 

Emily Miller wrote: "The world lost a beautiful, funny, kind and generous soul on 7th December from a head injury sustained in a tragic accident. 

"To honour him we'd like to raise funds to continue his work at Oddballs, a charity for which he was an ambassador. 

"The money raised will fund another ambassador to assist the Foundation.

"Luckily as a family we knew Tom's wishes of organ donation and were able to help him do this one last kindness.

"Please consider talking about organ donation with your loved ones."

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