Tragic death of gambling addict dad

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A GAMBLING addict hanged himself after running up debts and losing his cafe, an inquest heard.

The body of Alan Lockhart, aged 40, was found at his rented home in Burns Road, Maltby, Rotherham.

He left a suicide note saying: “The biggest regret I have is starting to play fruit machines as a teenager which led to a gambling addiction which I was unable to control.”

Just four months previously, Mr Lockhart, who was separated from his wife and lived alone, lost a cafe he ran in Thorne after he could not pay the bills.

A Rotherham inquest heard he once bet £500 on a snooker game but lost the match and the money.

His daughter Hayley Leach said: “My father’s death came as a big surprise as I wasn’t aware of any medical problems.”

She saw him every few days and would frequently see him popping into a bookies on Maltby High Street.

Hayley said: “For many years he had a gambling addiction which got out of control.”

She had loaned him money over the last six months of his life which he said he needed to buy food. She said: “I’m not sure if he gambled this.”

Hayley said he would not speak about losing the cafe. “I think he was ashamed of letting it go down.”

She sobbed and said: “That’s why I can’t believe what happened. He was never ever down.”

Mr Lockhart’s close friend Cherie Rumbelow, who worked at the cafe, said he could not keep up with the bills or rent on the premises and had run up arrears.

He liked to bet on the horses and she too had loaned him cash. In the last few months before his death in June, 2010 he had become untidy and did not look after himself.

She said: “He became quiet and was not the Alan I had known for the last 23 years.”

Landlord Khaled Boussabat said Mr Lockhart had paid him 12 months rent but nothing after November, 2009.

Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a verdict of suicide and said Mr Lockhart had seemed to “lose interest” in caring for himself.

He was a private man and ‘likely to be ashamed’ at losing the cafe. He also had a gambling addiction and drank heavily.

“He plainly had many difficulties and up to a month before his death was asking one of his daughters for money,”