A soldier fell to his death as he tried to grab his mobile phone when he dropped it over a balcony while speaking to a friend on the phone.
Lance Corporal Nicholas Githaiga fell three storeys to his death. Neighbours heard Githaiga’s friend’s voice frantically shouting for him on loudspeaker after he fell. The 32-year-old soldier who is based in Germany was on the phone with Eva Muthoni at the time of his death.
An inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard that the soldier was at the window smoking a cigarette when the phone fell from his hand. He desperately tried to grab hold of it, but instead fell out of the window to his death.
L Cpl Githaiga was due for a medical discharge from the army and had been suffering from stress. The father-of-two had been married but his wife Danielle Pigurs had tried to have him arrested for drink driving. Daniella complained to German police that Nicholas had been drink driving but the charges were not followed up.
Eva Muthoni, the friend on the phone with the soldier at the time of his death said:
“He was a very happy person. It was common for him to phone me if he was stressed and if he had been drinking. When we were on the phone I could tell he was drunk.”
“Daniella had been trying to get him arrested for drink driving. He was worried and wanted to go and see his family. He explained to me that he was going through divorce proceedings.
“About two hours after the conversation had started he said, ‘My phone is falling. Wait, wait.’ We were on loudspeaker, so I could hear him. Then there was a small bang. I repeatedly called his name but there was silence. For most of the time I could hear that the phone was still on. I do not believe Nicholas would hurt himself, he was so full of life. I do not believe he is the type of person to hurt himself.”
L Cpl Githaiga lived in an apartment block in Versmold, northern Germany, with his friends. No member of his family appeared at the inquest into his death.
Abdul Karim, said in a statement read to the court:
“I wanted to go to bed and sleep. Nicholas was meant to sleep on the sofa. I was in the bathroom, and Nicholas knocked on the door. I let him smoke in there, because all the other flatmates were none smokers. He was on the phone and I spoke to Eva to say hello. During the night, I received a knock the door from a neighbour. I was told Nicholas was lying on the ground. I ran outside, and people were already around Nicholas. We had planned to arrange a surprise party for him because he was leaving the army.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death Coroner Julian Morris said:
“On 18 June 2017, Nicholas Githaiga, who had been drinking died. He fell from a window. He was at the window to smoke a cigarette and he was on the phone at the time. It is clear that he dropped the phone and fell trying to recover it. He died from head and chest injuries sustained from the fall. I pass on my regards to his family in these very tragic circumstances.”