Man found in car in Waterford 'devoted to family' — (Herfordshire Mercury)

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Herfordshire Mercury

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Written by CIARAN GOLD

A MAN who took his own life was discovered by an off-duty police officer walking his dog, an inquest heard.

A very strong smell of rotting eggs struck dog handler Robin Juniper as he walked up Sacombe Road, Waterford, at 7.30am on Thursday March 28.

The smell intensified as he approached a white Hyundai parked up the road.

Recognising the smell as a potentially toxic substance from his work as a dog handler, Mr Juniper decided to walk no further.

Speaking at the Old Courthouse in Hatfield on Tuesday (August 14), Hertfordshire coroner Edward Thomas said Mr Juniper then drove past the vehicle and noticed signs stuck to the inside of every window.

They read: “Do not open, poisonous chemicals, dangerous to people and animals.”

Mr Juniper then turned the car around and saw 35-year-old Michael Pearce from Bedford inside and it was apparent that he had died.

The alarm was raised and specialist response teams cordoned off the area to deal with the chemical.

One of those to attend was Detective Constable Dieter Sweeting, from the Local Crime Unit based in Hertford.

He told the inquest that it was clear Mr Pearce – who was also known as Michael Faber – had tried to minimise the impact finding him would have on others.

Inside the rental car were notes addressed to the police on how to deal with the chemical, the method he had used, copies of letters left to his family and funeral arrangements.

Mr Thomas said the contents of the notes would remain private, but told Mr Pearce’s family, who were at the inquest: “I’m fully aware of how much he was devoted to you.”

DC Sweeting described the site where Mr Pearce was found as “a local beauty spot but well hidden”.

One of Mr Pearce’s family explained the isolated spot was well known to him as he used to cycle there as a teenager.

It could not be established how long he had been there but the hire car had been collected two days before he was found.

There was nothing in Mr Pearce’s medical notes to suggest a possible reason for his death, but he had been taking a mild anti-depressant drug.

He was being supported by a community drug and alcohol team and was being prescribed medication on a daily basis.

A search of his home address also found no other toxic chemicals.

Recording a verdict of suicide by toxicity, Mr Thomas said: “Michael decided to take his own life and planned it in a way that I think tried to avoid other people and other members of the public being affected by it.

“A lot of thought went into it.”