Depression led to man's death in woodlands

WORRIED relatives mounted a search of a Sheffield neighbourhood when a father with a history of depression went missing, an inquest heard.

Ronald Oxley, aged 58, had not returned to the home he shared with his partner Samantha Christer, in Kyle Close, Southey Green, after going for his regular afternoon walk to have a drink in Ecclesfield.

Deputy Coroner Judith Naylor heard Ms Christer had received a telephone call from Mr Oxley at about 5.45pm, when he was in a pub, and was expecting him to return home for a meal at 7pm.

But, when he did not appear, she tried "ringing and ringing" his mobile phone, only to find it turned off, the court was told. Pc Martin Cohen, of South Yorkshire Police, said Mr Oxley's family - who then went on a search for him - eventually found out what had happened when they approached officers who were cordoning-off a footpath through Hartley Brook Woods, between Parson Cross and Ecclesfield.

Pc Cohen said Mr Oxley's body had been discovered by a passer-by, who had been walking through the woods at about 9.50pm.

The inquest heard Mr Oxley had a history of depression - having first sought help from his GP in 1995.

For the next eight years, he underwent treatment for anxiety and panic attacks. This included a spell in the psychiatric ward at the Northern General Hospital.

Natalie Oxley, one of two of his daughters who were at the inquest, said her dad had remained unhappy in more recent years, with his marriage to her mum coming to an end.

In 2006, however, the inquest heard his mood briefly changed when he prepared to receive a windfall after the marital home was sold.

Mr Oxley's new partner Ms Christer said: "Prior to receiving the money, he stopped working. He went out to Benidorm several times and seemed to have ideas like having a bar or driving a limousine."

But Ms Christer added he was "quite secretive about money" - and she found out he had nothing left months after the house sale.

Mr Oxley received a further blow when a close friend died. He eventually went to his GP on January 24, and was prescribed anti-depressants - but a week later, he was dead.

Recording a verdict that Mr Oxley had taken his own life, Ms Naylor said: "He was a man who had, for years, been blighted by mental health issues. But it is clear there are a number of people who cared very deeply for him."