Climber may have died after falling from tree

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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

A CLIMBING enthusiast found critically injured in Hinksey Park had probably fallen from a tree, an inquest heard.

Tom Franklin, 23, died in September after he was found with multiple injuries in the Oxford park, almost seven years after his 21-year-old brother James was killed in a car crash on the A415 near Cokethorpe School near Ducklington.

Yesterday his family paid tribute to Tom and spoke about coping with losing both brothers.

Tom, who lived in Abingdon Road, Oxford, and worked as a maintenance contractor, had been on a night out in the city before he was found unconscious under the tree on September 21.

His girlfriend Amie Phillips raised the alarm with police at about 5.30am after he didn’t get back to their home. He was found by dog walker Tim Hart shortly after 8am.

Mr Franklin’s shoes were off but his phone and wallet were still in his pockets. He died in the John Radcliffe Hospital two hours after he was found.

Pathologist Benjamin Swift said the levels of alcohol in his blood were “not significantly high”, and he had suffered broken ribs, arm fractures, and a fractured skull.

Oxfordshire’s assistant coroner Nicholas Graham recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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Tom Franklin

Mr Graham said: “It might have been a mistake or misjudgment when Tom was climbing a tree in the park.”

He added: “There is a question mark as to how he got up that tree, but I know he was a very experienced climber.”

One of his sisters, Sarah Pierce, 29, said: “Death is a funny thing, especially when you have gone through it so much, I don’t even think it has sunk in.

“So many people have felt the impact of Tom being lost and gone forever. How do you move past something like that? My son came downstairs last night crying his eyes out saying ‘I just thought about Uncle Tom, I didn’t want him to die.’”

Oxford Mail:

James Franklin

His other sister, Paula Franklin, added: “He is hugely missed, he was full of life.”

Their mother Jill Parker, from Cirencester, said: “Tom, from an early age, has been a bit of a monkey. He looked at the risk before he took it.

“He probably passed that tree 100 times wondering how he could get up it.”

The sisters said he usually liked to film or photograph his antics for everyone to see.

Mrs Pierce said: “Tom was a risk taker, he liked a challenge, but we don’t know what he was doing that night.

“He usually wanted people to know what he was doing.”

Mr Franklin also took part in calisthenics – a form of gymnastics in which people swing around on iron bars.

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