Inquest hears how drowned St Budeaux man became depressed after tragic death of wife — (Plymouth Herald)

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Plymouth Herald

Posted: March 13, 2014

By CARL EVE Crime Reporter

A BODY of a man who suffered depression following the death of his wife was found by his brother-in-law after a week-long search.

The inquest of Desmond White revealed that the 45-year-old was identified by two tattoos by Mark Bowden a Ministry of Defence police officer with the marine unit based at HM Naval Base at Devonport.

Mr Bowden had been involved in the search for Mr White in a professional capacity, as were scores of civilian police officers, police dogs, Dartmoor Search and Rescue Teams and the police helicopter. Friends and family of Mr White also repeatedly searched for him in what the inquest heard were “atrocious conditions”.

The inquest heard how Mr White, of Furse Park in St Budeaux, had been dropped off for work in Ernesettle Lane on September 12 last year at 7.15am by his son. Shortly after 9am his workmates at Vi-spring factory became concerned and raised the alarm. Two went looking for Mr White and found what turned out to be his lunch in a carrier bag hooked to a tree.

Extensive land and river searches were carried out over the next seven days.

His body was found at around 4pm on September 19 at the Old Jetty Gates, in the grounds of the naval base.

A post mortem by Home Office pathologist Prof Amo-Takyi found the cause of death to be drowning.

The inquest, held by Coroner Ian Arrow, heard statements from Mr White’s GP who had noted how following the death of is wife Michelle, in April 2011 with ovarian cancer, he had become depressed. He was signed off work for a short while and prescribed anti-depressants.

He next saw the doctor in 2013 for minor problems but in August he reported during a phone call to a GP that he was again not eating or sleeping well, and was worried about his daughter. He had said he “felt he did not want to be here” but had no active suicidal thoughts. He was signed off work and agreed to contact the Mustard Tree for a consultation.

On September 4 his GP phoned him and he said he felt “fairly positive” and wanted to return to work. He was urged to continue his medication and visit the surgery in the next three weeks. However, he did not call in and the GP said he was “deeply upset” to learn of his death.

Det Con Phil Trevains told the inquest that Mr White’s phone effectively stopped at 7.26am on September 12 and that this could have been because it entered the water.

While there was “no indication” Mr White was suffering suicidal thoughts, he wife’s death was a “tragedy which badly effected the whole family”.

He said no note was found.

The coroner said that while, on the balance of probabilities, Mr White entered the water at around 7.26am and remained submerged for seven days, he could not be certain why he entered the water.

As a result he recorded an open conclusion verdict.