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by Gerry Warren
Mystery surrounds the death of a businessman found dead next to his shotgun.
An inquest heard yesterday how Charles Lambie – who stumped up £1 million to keep Canterbury’s Westgate Towers museum open – had died from a gunshot blast.
But a coroner failed to decide if the 47-year-old, who had been under “financial strain”, intended to pull the trigger.
Mr Lambie was found with fatal head injuries caused by a shotgun blast at his London home.
DC Denise Whipp told the hearing in Barnet that Mr Lambie’s body was discovered after family and friends became concerned for his welfare and reported him missing.
Officers went to his Muswell Hill home on January 19, where they found him lying on his gun on the basement floor.
A post mortem confirmed death had been from head trauma caused by a gunshot.
Toxicology tests also showed he had been taking anti-depressants, but had no alcohol or other drugs in his body.
DC Whipp said an investigation ruled out any suspicious circumstances or third-party involvement.
She said he was thought to have committed suicide, but no note had been left.
Family friend John Smith told her Mr Lambie had been under “a great deal of financial strain” over his renovation works in Canterbury.
She said inquiries also revealed Mr Lambie was a licensed shotgun owner and had been on a shooting trip to Scotland the weekend before.
Attending the hearing was Mr Lambie’s brother and sister, Andrew and Fiona Lambie, and friends John Smith and David Beck.
None was called to give evidence, and Mr Lambie’s wife, Georgie, was said to be too upset to attend.
Recording an open verdict, coroner Andrew Walker said: “I have to be satisfied that Mr Lambie intended to take his own life – it is not something I can presume.
“I have no letter or expressions of his state of mind and I cannot totally rule out that the firearm was accidently discharged.
“In these circumstances when there is no other involvement, I cannot be satisfied what his intentions were and cannot totally rule out an accident.
“I have to be satisfied he voluntarily did an act to end his life and he knew what he was doing.
“I cannot fly in the face of the direction regarding suicide which must not be presumed.”
After the hearing, Mr Lambie’s friend David Beck said: “I think his family and friends would like Charles to be remembered for all the good work he did in Canterbury and they hope his legacy will not be lost.”