Man devastated by deaths took his own life

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a MAN who hanged himself outside Thorne police station had become depressed after a devastating series of family bereavements, a court heard.

Within a few years James Gardner, aged 51, had lost a niece, daughter, sister-in-law, his wife and finally his mother, a Doncaster inquest was told.

The death of his wife, Sheila, hit him especially hard and he resumed heavy drinking again after previously giving it up.

Last October he attended a weekend of family functions, where he had been drinking, and then left his sister-in-law’s house to walk to the police station on Durham Avenue.

Once there he climbed up a willow tree and hanged himself from a branch. His body was found by a policeman just before midnight on October 4 and he could not be revived.

Although he did not leave a note, a verdict of suicide was recorded on the widower, who lived in Willow Avenue, Thorne.

Mr Gardner’s wife died in hospital in July 2009 and he had been particularly distressed afterwards because he was unable to say goodbye to her. He was very close to his wife and “life had not been the same for him since”, he told psychiatric workers.

Psychiatrist Dr Joe Cunnane said Mr Gardner took an overdose in December 2009, his mother died in March 2010, and in June he was detained under mental health laws for violent behaviour while intoxicated.

Although he was consuming large amounts of alcohol he was reluctant to take professional counselling from Doncaster Alcohol Advisory Service.

Coroner Nicola Mundy said it was evident Mr Gardner had suffered a great number of bereavements and was “very deeply affected by the loss of his wife and found it difficult to cope, even more so after the loss of his mother”.

He had first been treated for depression in 2003 after which he gave up drinking, but relapsed into depression and alcohol consumption in 2009.

Other family members also believed the overdose was a serious attempt to end his life.

On the weekend of his death he had spent time at family birthday parties and consumed a considerable amount of alcohol.

But despite being twice over the legal alcohol limit for driving on the night he died, Ms Mundy said Mr Gardner was still able to scale a tree with enough dexterity and presence of mind to fashion a ligature.

She said she was satisfied that he did intentionally mean to take his own life.