Padiham man took ‘dark secret’ to grave

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A Padiham widower who confessed to his only friend that he had “a dark secret” hanged himself at home while on police bail.

Mr Rodney Leighton (69) was found hanged on May 27th at his home in Cardwell Street after police forced entry following concerns for his welfare. Police said that he may have been dead for some weeks, but would not reveal what offence he had been arrested for.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Leighton had become reclusive following the death of his wife, and would only see his former work colleague Mr Peter Branch.

Mr Branch said that he worried his friend may have been planning to commit suicide when he began to sell his licensed firearms and clear his house out. Mr Branch told the hearing: “I used to see Rodney every week since his wife died in 1996. He had been very lonely since then, he never really got over her death.

“He would come to my home every Christmas but last year said he didn’t want to visit anymore. Then in January he told me he had a dark secret.

“He said he wanted to see the police, which I advised him to do. He was then arrested, but became very paranoid. He felt he was being watched.

“He had always been a quiet chap. His state of mind must have been completely overwhelmed.

“I last saw him in March, and contacted police when I hadn’t heard from him for some weeks.”

The inquest heard that Mr Leighton was arrested on April 5th and released on police bail.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor concluded that Mr Leighton had taken his own life.