Former South Yorkshire fire boss hanged himself

South Yorkshire Fire Service's ex-boss hanged himself after becoming upset after a family row, an inquest has heard.

Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 11:04 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2017, 11:11 am
Mark Smitherman.

Mark Smitherman, 55, was found hanged in the garage of his home near Newark.

He had one daughter, Isla, with his wife Christian and had also been a father to Christian’s two sons from a previous relationship.

The inquest, at Nottingham Council House, heard that on October 15, Mr Smitherman’s stepson, Jamie, visited the family home to celebrate Isla’s birthday.

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But the hearing was told that an argument occurred because he had not brought a card.

Even though Isla wasn’t present, and was out celebrating with friends in Sheffield, Mr Smitherman became ‘upset’.

Assistant Coroner Amanda Cranny said: “There was something of a family history around the brother not bringing gifts.'

Mr Smitherman became quite upset and on this particular occasion there was quite a heated argument, the hearing was told.

Shortly after going to bed Mrs Smitherman returned downstairs and found her husband.

A toxicology report by Dr Stephen Morley found Mr Smitherman had consumed a ‘modest’ amount of alcohol shortly before he died, which may have affected his thought processes.

Delivering a narrative verdict, the coroner said: “Mr Mark William Smitherman took his own life by hanging on October 16, 2016 at a time when his cognitive abilities may have been affected by the consumption of alcohol.”

Mr Smitherman served with various fire services for 32 years.

He was Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer for four years.

He retired in 2011 after seven years at the helm of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

He then took a position as a Director at the Chief Fire Officers’ Association.

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that it was said at the inquest that Mrs Smitherman "attempted to justify her son's actions". This was incorrect. In fact, the Assistant Coroner expressed her view that it was Mr Smitherman - not his wife - who tried to justify his own actions and express his regret for the events of the evening. We apologise for this mistake, which has been corrected.