Tragedy of pensioner who killed himself after being told his wife was dying – only for her to make a full recovery
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:48 PM on 26th April 2010
Reginald Heydon killed himself thinking his wife was terminally ill, only for her to get better
A heartbroken pensioner who thought his wife was going to die killed himself near the spot where the couple first courted – only for her to get better.
The body of 84-year-old Reginald Heydon was found by police in the River Trent at Shardlow, near Derby, more than three weeks after he disappeared.
An inquest heard that at the time he went missing, Mr Heydon's wife of 60 years, Marjorie, 83, was in a critical condition in hospital.
Derby Coroner's Court was told doctors had told Mr Heydon and his family that his wife was not expected to live much longer.
Hours later on November 2 last year, the pensioner wrote a note to his family, left his home and was never seen alive again.
But in a tragic twist, his critically ill wife recovered from her illness and was discharged from hospital.
Last night Mr Heydon's son, Paul, said: 'We had the impression she had hours to live. We were told that on the day that she went into intensive care.'
But after his father had been found dead, his mother recovered and was able to come home.
'That was the real tragedy. If only he had waited,' he said.
Derby and South Derbyshire Deputy Coroner Louise Pinder said the note Mr Heydon left had made it clear what his intentions were.
She said: 'The contents of the letter do suggest he was contemplating taking his own life. There was a suggestion he was going to the river.'
Despite a police search involving helicopters, dogs and a special task force to search the river his body was not found until November 25 by a passerby.
Acting Sergeant Robert Buckley told the court that the area had a significance. He said: 'The river had been a courting area to which they went.'
A postmortem examination carried out on the body gave the cause of death as a vasovagal attack – a nervous attack leading to fainting – caused by submersion in cold water.
Ms Pinder said he would not have suffered. She gave a verdict that Mr Heydon had taken his own life.
The court heard that, during his later years, Mr Heydon had been inclined to drink to alleviate anxiety.
He was taking an anti-depression and his the deterioration of his wife's condition in hospital had exacerbated that.
The inquest was told his wife had undergone surgery at the Royal Derby Hospital for a swallowing problem, after which her condition became critical.
Mr Heydon said of his father: 'When the news came about mum he seemed like he knew how serious it was.
'He had accepted things were not going to be the same. But she got better and she was able to come home afterwards.'