Carer, 21, stabbed himself in heart sparking major police probe
AN Exeter man whose death sparked a major police investigation stabbed himself in the heart, an inquest has been told.
A verdict that he took his own life was recorded on 21-year-old Joe Bowden, who worked as a carer in Heavitree and was a former pupil of St Michael's Primary School, Heavitree, and St Peter's School, Exeter.
Mr Bowden died on April 27, 2008 at the YMCA in St David's Hill, Exeter, where he had lived since August 2006.
His inquest at County Hall was told that Mr Bowden, who was bipolar and subject to extreme mood swings, was found in his room by other residents.
He was slumped across his bed with a black-handled knife showing through his T-shirt.
A post-mortem examination showed he had died of a single stab wound to the heart.
Jeremy Seaton, assistant housing manager at the YMCA and Mr Bowden's support worker for some time, said Mr Bowden had been in a good mood after getting a job as a care worker with the elderly but subsequently became depressed that he was not doing well even though his employers were happy with his work.
Marie Rundle, a community psychiatric nurse, said Mr Bowden had been seen at Wonford House Hospital but had never discussed self-harm or suicide with her.
Dr Charles Montgomery, consultant psychiatrist at Wonford House, said Mr Bowden was diagnosed as bipolar in 2006.
He had subsequently prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medication which would also help Mr Bowden sleep.
He said: "I had considered if he was at risk from self-harm but felt that it could be managed with the support of the mental health teams and the medications and he had a very good relationship with Marie Rundle."
Detective Sergeant Martin South, a forensic crime scene co-ordinator who visited Mr Bowden's room after he was found, said there were no obvious signs of disturbance and the scene was consistent with him having stabbed himself.
Deputy coroner Darren Salter said that all the evidence pointed to Mr Bowden having taken his own life.
He added: "I have to take into account that he was suffering a mental illness and, on balance, it seems to me he intended to take his own life so the verdict is he took his own life.
"It seems to me that all the appropriate steps were taken by both the YMCA and the mental health services."
After the inquest, Mr Bowden's mother, Lynne Ashley, said: "He was a gentle, sweet, intelligent man with a great sense of humour.
"You never heard a word said against him.
"He was kind and would always put other people first.
"I have to say I am so relieved at the verdict. There was a suggestion that it could be an open verdict but I am glad we have the right verdict."