Gaming fanatic student found dead after university break

Douglas Halls Residences on campus of University of Central Lancashire
Douglas Halls Residences on campus of University of Central Lancashire
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  • Jonathon Harbottle was found dead in his student accommodation
  • He had returned to university during the Christmas holidays
  • His family became concerned and reported him missing after he failed to make contact
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A gaming fanatic student who died at university halls has been described as “fantastic” and “loved by all”.

Jonathon Harbottle, 24, was found dead in his student accommodation at Douglas Hall, on Victoria Street in Preston, after being reported missing by his worried family.

He was funny and had a brilliant sense of humour. He was a fantastic brother and was loved by all of us.

Michael Harbottle

He had returned to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) during the Christmas holidays, but his family became concerned when he failed to make contact.

After a missing person’s report was filed, on January 24, police officers broke into his “clean and tidy” flat where they found his body.

Paying tribute to Jonathon, his dad Michael Harbottle said: “He was funny and had a brilliant sense of humour. He was a fantastic brother and was loved by all of us.

“Gaming with a passion of his and he loved computer games.

“He was a fantastic artist and he hoped to go on and design the games that he loved playing.”

At an inquest into his death yesterday, Coroner Claire Hammond recorded an open conclusion on the basis she couldn’t be satisfied that he intended to take his own life.

Preston Coroners Court heard how Jonathon had enrolled on a games design course at UCLAN in September 2011, but decided to drop out after suffering from depression. However, after responding well to anti-depressants and help from his family, he re-enrolled in September 2014.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Harbottle said: “He surprised us and said he wanted to go back which we supported him in.

“He had to jump through a few hoops to go back on exactly the same course but he seemed happy.”

Mr Harbottle told the inquest that Jonathon returned home for Christmas before going back to university to hand in an assignment ahead of the second semester.

However, Jonathon, from Southport, failed to turn up for a planned go-karting outing, causing his family to become concerned.

“When we took him back, he seemed like the usual Jonathon. Not excitable, just his calm, quiet self.

“It wasn’t unusual not to get hold of him straight away, but when he didn’t respond to texts, we decided to go down to the university.

“We managed to get into the flat and we knocked on his door and shouted but there was no reply.

“The next day we still hadn’t heard, so we decided to report him missing.”

His course tutor Beverley Bush told Preston Coroners Court that he had spoken with her just before the Christmas holidays and said that he was very happy.

She said: “He said he was enjoying the course and had made some friends.

“I told him he was doing well but told him not to let it slip as he had missed three or four classes.

“I asked his classmates if they had any reason to think he was upset but they said not in the slightest. They didn’t think he had anything to worry about.”

Offering her condolences to Jonathon’s family, Claire Hammond, Coroner for Preston and West Lancashire, said: “There’s nothing in any of the evidence I’ve heard to suggest there was anything that Jonathon was explaining to people that suggest he was having any problems at the time.”