A "softly spoken, gentle" 47-year-old who died after jumping from a pedestrian walkway in Charter Place suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, an inquest heard.

Stephen Mullett, who lived in the YMCA in Charter Place, was found dead in the service road at 7am on February 20 after he sustained a number of internal injuries and major head injuries from the fall.

Hertfordshire Coroner's Court heard initial calls to the emergency services reported hearing a gunshot, but when police arrived they discovered the former gardener’s body.

Detective Sergeant Ian Siggery told the inquest: "He had jumped about 15 metres from a pedestrian walkway three storeys up above the service road which gave access to Charter Place and the YMCA."

He continued: "He most definitely propelled himself forward, rather than it being a fall."

The inquest heard that Mr Mullett was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and he heard voices which, in Mr Mullett’s own words, were telling him to "become a really nasty person".

Consultant psychiatrist, Dr Judit Somlai, said Mr Mullett was worried the voices would make him do something out of character, but that he was making a real effort to keep control of his own behaviour.

YMCA support workers and Mr Mullett’s care co-ordinator discovered he had not been taking his medication for four months just days before he took his own life, but Mr Mullett was taking it again at the time of his death.

Dr Somlai said: "I felt there was a part of him that was quite strong and that part of him wanted to stay alive. It was striking how relieved he was when help was offered."

Rachel Brown, YMCA housing support, took on Mr Mullett’s case in January.

She told the inquest he had always been friendly, but had become more withdrawn and he would not eat for five days at a time.

Ms Brown said: "Everything just changed all of a sudden with him. He said that no one could help him."

Coroner Edward Thomas ruled that Mr Mullett took his own life because he was suffering from a chronic, enduring mental illness.

He said: "Obviously a lot of people were very sad about his death. Especially in the sense that Mr Mullett could not appreciate how everyone felt about the niceness of him, because his voices were telling him he wasn’t a nice person."