Richey James – Gold Against the Soul

Richard James Edwards (Richey James) was a Welsh musician who was lyricist and rhythm guitarist of the band Manic Street Preachers. He disappeared on 1 February 1995 and was declared presumed dead in November 2008.

Richey suffered severe bouts of depression in his adult life and was open about it in interviews. He also self-harmed, mainly through stubbing cigarettes on his body, and cutting himself, was alcoholic, and suffered from anorexia... After the release of the band’s third album he checked into a psychiatric hospital,  rejoining the band following inpatient treatment.

Richey’s’ final live appearance with the band was at the London Astoria, on 21 December 1994. On 1 February 1995, Richey disappeared. In the two weeks prior to his disappearance, Richey withdrew £2800 from his bank account, in amounts of £200 a day. He checked out of his London Hotel and then drove to his apartment in Cardiff, where he left his passport, credit card and anti depressant medication. Then he vanished.

In the two weeks that followed there were reports of sightings at a passport office and the market square in Newport (a town to the north of Cardiff). A taxi driver claimed that on 7 February, he picked Richey up from a hotel in Newport, drove him around the Welsh valleys, including through the village where Richey grew up, and dropped him at the Severn View service station; the passenger paid the fare in cash.

On 14 February, a parking ticket was issued for Richey’s car which had been parked at the Severn View service station. The car was reported as abandoned three days later. When Police investigated they found that the battery was flat, and it appeared that the car had been lived in. 

Due to the service station’s proximity to the Severn Bridge (reportedly a notorious suicide spot) it was widely believed that Richey took his own life by jumping from the bridge. However since then there have been reported sightings at various locations throughout the world although none has been found to be conclusive. However, none of these have proved conclusive.

Richey’s parents were granted a Court order declaring him to be presumed dead in November 2008. It was reported that in seeking the order his family were not accepting that Richard(as he was known to his family) was dead rather it was

“an acceptance that his affairs have got to be sorted”.

The Probate Registry of Wales named Richey’s parents as his executors and stated that he had “died on or since” February 1 1995. They can now release assets frozen in bank accounts since his disappearance. The estate was valued at £455,990, reduced after liabilities to a net value of £377,548.

Richey was 27 when he disappeared and left no will. He had no spouse or children so his parents inherited his entire estate under intestacy laws. The Manic Street Preachers – had been placing a quarter of the royalties earned by the band in an account for him, should he resurface.

A Will is just one of the tools that is at your disposal for planning for your future. Importantly it is better to have a Will so that your loved ones have the power to direct your estate as you wish and not as prescribed by intestacy law.

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