Chairman was found dead at club ground — (The Stoke Sentinal)

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The Stoke Sentinal

Posted: March 06, 2013

By dave knapper

A FOOTBALL chairman hanged himself in the club’s changing rooms after struggling to cope with problems in his marriage, an inquest heard.  Engineer Ian Fairbrother was discovered at Butt Lane White Star’s ground by his best friend after concerns had been raised over the 50-year-old’s welfare.

North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court heard yesterday how Mr Fairbrother, of Ashenough Road, Talke Pits, was planning to move out after there were problems in his five-year marriage.

Widow Carole Fairbrother told the inquest that in April last year her husband started sending text messages telling her their marriage was over.

The inquest heard Mr Fairbrother – who died on July 17 – had a history of depression.

Education mentor Mrs Fairbrother said: “He had massive mood swings. One night he would be fine and the next he wouldn’t. When I discussed him going back on anti-depressants he would get snappy and say there was nothing wrong.

“He got upset when I discussed us having some time apart but I thought a break for him to sort out his problems would help. It was to save the marriage rather than destroy it.”

During the day prior to his death, Mrs Fairbrother said the couple had enjoyed a ‘normal’ morning.

She said: “We had a cup of tea and a normal chat. But I had worked over the weekend and was aching a little and told him I felt like I had been hit by a train. He smirked and said, ‘don’t put ideas in my head’. I told him not to go down that road.”

Mrs Fairbrother told the inquest she didn’t hear from her husband for the rest of the day and after returning from work found his gym bag had gone.

She added: “I fell asleep and when I woke up and he wasn’t home I did try to ring him.

“I thought he was in one of his moods and had gone straight to work as he worked nights.”

But Mr Fairbrother, who worked at Newcastle-based KMF, did not return home.

Mrs Fairbrother alerted her husband’s best friend, Mark Casewell, of Walton Way, Talke, who later found Mr Fairbrother’s car on the club car park. He found Mr Fairbrother dead in the changing rooms.

Mr Casewell, who is treasurer and secretary at White Star, said: “The door to the changing rooms was locked and as I went inside I could see him in the shower area and the light was still on.”

The inquest also heard that Mr Fairbrother had visited his parents just days before his death and told them he was experiencing problems in his marriage.

Mr Casewell added: “He never seemed a depressed character – just someone who would do anything for you.”

Assistant deputy coroner Margaret Jones ruled that Mr Fairbrother killed himself.