The British boss of Indian car giant Tata Motors jumped to his death from a Bangkok hotel room following a blazing row with his wife, it emerged yesterday. Karl Slym was handed a three-page letter by his wife Sally detailing a ‘family problem’ on Saturday night after she became so enraged she stopped speaking to him.
In the early hours of Sunday the managing director clambered out of the tiny window of his room on the 22nd floor of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel and jumped, landing on the staff accommodation block. Mrs Slym had accompanied her 51-year-old husband to Bangkok for a board meeting of Tata Motors’ Thailand unit, but the couple were overheard engaged in a loud and bitter fight on Saturday night.
After giving her husband the letter she went to sleep, and only learned of his death from police officers who knocked on her hotel room door on Sunday morning. Mrs Slym was treated for shock and was later interviewed by Thai police. She told them: ‘We rowed and rowed about family business from about 7pm. Then I wrote a long letter and went to bed.’ A Thai police source added: ‘The wife said that they had rowed so much about a family problem that she could not talk to her husband any more.
They had been fighting and it had become very loud. ‘She went to the bedroom and decided to write her husband a letter to let him know how she felt. She gave it to her husband and then went to sleep.’ Officers declined to give details of the family problem. Police Lieutenant Somyot Booyakaew said detectives found no sign of a struggle and were working on the assumption that Mr Slym committed suicide. He said: ‘We can rule out murder. There was no sign of a struggle, no sign of force being used. The room was tidy. ‘We found a window open. The window was very small so it was not possible that he would have slipped. He would have had to climb through the window to fall out because he was a big man. From my initial investigation we believe he jumped.’ He added: ‘Yes they did argue. The wife wrote the note because she wanted her husband to know some personal things.’
An examination of a three-page note written in English confirmed it had been written by Mrs Slym. A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Slym died from a broken skull as well as injuries to his brain and other internal organs consistent with a fall from his 22nd-floor room. The couple, both from Derby, married in 1984 and would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this summer.
They met after Mr Slym had a car accident and his future wife, who worked in insurance, helped him complete the paperwork. They had no children. His work took him to postings around the world and the couple set up home more than nine times in seven countries before settling in India and buying a house. Tata Motors’ share price fell more than 6 per cent yesterday following news of the executive’s death.
Tata declined to comment on the cause of Mr Slym’s death, saying it had not had an official report from the police about it. But chairman Cyrus P Mistry said Mr Slym had been a ‘valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry’. He added: ‘In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl’s wife and family.’ Last night a friend of Mr Slym said: ‘He was a fantastic colleague and a great family man. He worked hard but he also enjoyed the good things in life.’ A talented engineer, Mr Slym was head-hunted by Tata in October 2012 in the hope of turning around the firm’s ailing fortunes. He had previously worked for General Motors and Toyota UK. He was due to be interviewed as part of a corporate fraud investigation into General Motors India that led to the recall of over 100,000 cars. Last night General Motors said the company had nothing to hide.