Former Olympic weightlifter became tired with life — (This is Cheshire)

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This is Cheshire

By Nick Lakeman

1 Jun 2007

AN OLYMPIC weightlifter killed himself after becoming depressed at life in care, an inquest heard.

Frank Rowlinson, a member of Great Britain’s 1948 Olympic squad, strangled himself using a belt attached to a window in his room, at Westy Hall Residential Home in Latchford, on December 7 last year.

The 84-year-old former sailor, who survived D-Day, had been moved there from another home, The Glen, in Grappenhall, because staff had been unable to cope with his behaviour.

The inquest was told that he had repeatedly threatened to take his own life by throwing himself down the stairs or under a bus.

But staff at Westy Hall were no more qualified to look after him than those at The Glen and Deputy Coroner for Cheshire, Dr Janet Napier, questioned medicine-giving procedures at the home after close to fatal levels of the anti-depressant Celapram were found in his body.

The unmarried retired truck driver’s brother, Gilbert, said his older brother had battled alcoholism and depression for years while living alone at Linden Lea in Hatton.

“I saw him nearly every day,” Gilbert said. “He was fed up more then anything because he couldn’t walk very well. He couldn’t believe that it had got to that stage where he could hardly stand up.”

Frank had been at The Glen for three-and-a-half years when he was moved to Westy Hall. Gilbert said he had been unaware of the reason for the move but said his brother became very low after a spell in Warrington Hospital.

“He never said to me he was going to harm himself but he didn’t care – he’d had enough of life, put it that way.”

Frank’s threats to kill himself were reported to a psychiatrist, Sheila Cauley, who said he presented as very calm and aware of the situation’ when she visited.

On the night he died, he had 1.29 mg of Celpram in his body. A toxicologist said fatalities occurred at 1.5 mg.

Dr Napier said there was a strong possibility’ that an overdose could have contributed to Mr Rowlinson hanging himself.

She said that procedures whereby residents were watched as they swallowed medication was a matter that needs to be considered’ in a review by the 5 Borough’s Partnership in its ongoing investigation’ into the circumstances surrounding Mr Rowlinson’s death.