Peter Roebuck was very agitated moments before his death, reveals Jim Maxwell

Peter Roebuck was covering the ongoing Test series between South Africa and Australia when he died

Sydney: Nov 15, 2011

Renowned cricket writer Peter Roebuck was about to be detained over the alleged sexual assault of a Zimbabwean man when he plunged to his death, fellow commentator Jim Maxwell said on Tuesday.

English-born Roebuck, 55, was covering the ongoing Test series between South Africa and Australia for Fairfax Media and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation when he died on Saturday night.

He had called the ABC’s Maxwell shortly before falling to his death from his hotel window to ask for help and the veteran commentator went to his room to find two police officers.

“I’m sure what happened was triggered by the visit of the police and the fact that they were going to charge him with an alleged sexual assault, which meant he was going to be detained and would then have to appear in court on Monday,” Maxwell told the ABC.

“This is what I discovered when I went to his room after he made a very agitated, dramatic, despairing phone call to my room.

“He was absolutely on edge. And when I arrived the detective came out and filled me in on the detail.”

Maxwell said he was in the room for around two minutes and then left along with one of the two policemen who had been sent to detain Roebuck, whom he last saw sitting in a chair by the window.

It was at this time police confirmed to him that they had gone to the hotel to detain Roebuck who was to be charged with sexual assault against a Zimbabwean man in his 20s.

While Maxwell was out of the room, the former Somerset captain fell to his death.

South African police confirmed he committed suicide.

Maxwell told Fairfax he did not believe the death was “sinister” despite the fact only one officer was in the room at the time, making it difficult to corroborate his evidence.

“Given his state of mind, he just had a brain snap. That is all I can assume,” he said.

Roebuck studied law at Cambridge and played 335 first-class matches before becoming an Australian citizen and making a career writing about the sport, quickly establishing an avid following with his forthright, intelligent prose.

He also regularly commentated for the ABC and carried out philanthropic work with the charity The LBW Trust – Learning for a Better World, which helped underprivileged children with their education.

Reports said he was supporting 42 young adults, most of the them university students from Zimbabwe and South Africa. (AFP)

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