Burnley businessman hanged himself over court fears

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A FORMER successful businessman took his own life after spiralling into depression and becoming anxious about an impending court battle.

Mr Peter Duckworth (63) hanged himself at the home he shared with his mother in Lowerhouse Lane on August 31st last year – the day he had been due to attend a county court hearing following a separation.

An inquest into his death, at Burnley Coroner’s Court, heard Mr Duckworth had suffered from depression in the two years before he died and was taking anti-depressants.

His sister, Mrs Joan Coates, said he was worried about the court case, that he did not have the correct paperwork and that he would go to prison.

“In my view he was overwhelmed by feelings of shame, guilt and the enormity of what was happening. He didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

Mrs Coates said she had seen her brother, who used to own property and at one point had his own building company, the previous night. “He was anxious but it wasn’t obvious he was feeling suicidal.

“He was always a very proud, confident, hard-working man, some would say arrogant, but he was nothing like that. He couldn’t make a decision and he couldn’t really engage in conversation. His life had been turned upside down.”

Recording a verdict of suicide, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said: “We sometimes sadly see situations where somebody has been successful in life, done well, been industrious, hard working, a proud man and sees it all tumble down around him.

“It’s clear he had significant difficulties. He had a fear of what was going to happen to him. I think he probably felt the hearing was going to be detrimental to his life.

“I have no hesitation in recording that verdict.”