Body in the Beck at Driffield – Alverston, Warwickshire man took his own life, inquest told
Published Date: 30 June 2009
A MAN battling depression, financial difficulties and problems with alcohol took his own life in Driffield's West Beck, an inquest was told.
The body of Clive Arthur Runciman Lee, 55, was recovered by police from the water at Bell Mills on Skerne Road on the afternoon of Sunday March 1.
An inquest at Hull Coroner's court yesterday heard that Mr Lee died as a result of drowning and that he had intended to take his own life.
The court was told that Mr Lee had been battling with depression following the breakdown of his 12-year marriage in 2005, despite having unlimited access to their daughter.
Mr Lee was first prescribed anti-depressants in April 2004 and had been prescribed various forms of anti-depressants and sleeping tablets ever since, the Coroner was told.
Ms Amanda Victoria Taylor said that she had been increasingly concerned about her former husband's health in the weeks leading up to his death, describing him as a heavy drinker and stating that his appearance had started to deteriorate. "He was very quiet and not quite with it," she said.
Mr Lee's brother, Michael James Lee, of Beverley Road, Driffield, said that he had also become increasingly concerned for Mr Lee's health.
Two days before Mr Lee's death, Michael had visited his brother at his home in Poplar Terrace, Alverston, Warwickshire. After failing to get a response by knocking on the door and throwing stones at the window, Michael had called the police, who forced entry to the property and found Mr Lee in bed surrounded by empty containers of alcohol.
It was at this point that Michael, after talking to the police and his brother's doctor, decided to take Mr Lee home to Driffield, where he hoped he would get the necessary help.
On March 1, Mr Lee left his brother's house saying he was going to church. But he never returned home.
Michael told the court he went out to look for his brother, calling at local churches and pubs.
Later that afternoon, a friend telephoned Michael to tell him there was a lot of police activity down by the beck. After arriving on the scene, Michael identified a body as that of his brother.
The inquest was told that Mr Lee had formerly been a successful entrepreneur in the Coventry area and had worked for a merchant bank in London and a Mercedes dealership in the Midlands before becoming self-employed and buying a franchise selling chemicals to commercial companies.
But, when this franchise collapsed, Michael said that his brother fell on lean times with his work.
It was only after his death that Mr Lee's family discovered the true extent of his financial difficulties.
The Coroner was told that Mr Lee was on the verge of being evicted from his Warwickshire home.
A police search of the Driffield property where Mr Lee had been staying revealed that a note had been left under his pillow.
The court heard that it was unclear at which location Mr Lee had entered the beck.
But a second note written on kitchen paper containing his brother's contact details was also found on the bank of the beck within the grounds of Driffield Showground at Kelleythorpe, together with a neatly folded green tweed coat, a Bible and a packet of cigars.
Sgt David Jenkins, of the Driffield Neighbourhood Policing team, attended the scene at Bell Mills with colleagues shortly before 1pm. "On my arrival, trapped by surging currents, I could see the body of a man."
Sgt Jenkins said that he thought it too dangerous to enter the water and decided to wait for the underwater search and rescue team to arrive.
"While waiting for the underwater police search unit to attend, we were approached by a couple who said that their brother was missing, he had not returned home and that he was depressed."
Sgt Jenkins said that shortly before 3pm the body moved off down the beck at which time the search unit arrived. The body was later recovered.
In conclusion, the Coroner for Hull and East Riding, Geoffrey Saul, said: "I am satisfied that he did intend to take his own life."
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- Last Updated: 30 June 2009 4:44 PM
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- Location: Driffield