'Son Copied The Possible Fate Of Manic Star Richey'

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The mystery disappearance of Manic Street Preachers star Richey Edwards is being blamed by a grieving mother as the reason for her teenage son's death.

The Blackwood lyricist vanished in February 1995 and his car was found abandoned at Aust service station on the M4 near the Severn bridge.

Many fans believe Edwards, who had a history of depression, may have thrown himself off the bridge.

Joan Battersby believes his possible fate is one of the reasons her son, Preachers fan Christopher Goodall, aged 16, drowned in the Severn last Autumn.

At an inquest in Gloucester, Mrs Battersby, of Glossop in Derbyshire, said she is sure her son emulated his hero's possible fate on a pilgrimage to the Severn Bridge.

"I feel one of the reasons Christopher did this was because he was influenced by the pop group", she said.

The inquest heard that the teenager had disappeared from his home in October just as his relationship with his girlfriend Rebecca Gow, was breaking up.

He wrote to her at the time of his disappearance telling her he wanted to end his life.

Recording an open verdict, Gloucester coroner David Gibbons said: "Clearly Christopher was influenced by this media pop idol and undoubtedly he was in a very disturbed state when he decided to go to the Cardiff/Newport area - probably following what he had read about his idol."

[Originally published: South Wales Argus, 27 April 1998]