Husband blames Lloyds for wife's suicide after bank pulls family firm's overdraft
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:05 PM on 27th October 2009
A husband has claimed Lloyds bank was partly to blame for his wife's suicide after it suddenly pulled their overdraft.
Mark Davis says the bank's actions helped drive his wife Victoria to throw herself in front of a train earlier this year.
An inquest into her death heard a £16,000 tax demand was also hand-delivered to the family home on the morning of her suicide.
The hearing was told Mrs Davis had battled to juggle her job as company secretary for the family firm and coping with its debts with being a mother to two young children.
'Blissfully happy': Mark and Victoria Davis. He claims Lloyds bank was partially to blame for her suicide because it pulled their overdraft
Her husband, from whom she kept secret the extent of the family's chauffeur business's woe, insisted Lloyds TSB was also partly to blame.
After the inquest, he told how they had been with the bank for years and had always had the loan renewed on a yearly basis.
This was suddenly changed to monthly renewals and then finally withdrawn, cutting adrift the family chauffeur car business which then went bust, he claimed.
'We did everything they asked us to do and then they moved the goal posts and kept moving them. I am extremely bitter about it,' Mr Davis said.
'Lloyds bank holds some of the responsibility for her death. We banked with Lloyds for many years and had a very successful business. But at the beginning of this year, they were themselves in serious financial difficulties.
'We had an extremely large overdraft of £30,000 which was secured on our house and other guarantees. Previously it had been renewed annually but suddenly it was only renewed monthly and then it was pulled completely.
'How can we run a business on that basis? I had a letter from the bank yesterday saying they were still holding a personal guarantee of mine and they wanted it paid.
'But my company has now gone into liquidation and as far as I can, I shall make sure that Lloyds don't get a penny.'
Mrs Davis committed suicide on railway tracks near the couple's home in Chalford, near Stroud in Gloucestershire in May.
After her death, some 4,000 letters she had hidden away were found. Ironically, many contained payments from customers that would have eased their financial problems.
Following the inquest jury's verdict of suicide, her husband said he could not understand why she had kept the extent of their debts from him.
He said: 'She must have been frightened to tell me because I can be a bit fiery but she was a very intelligent woman and after what we had been through, I can't believe she kept it all from me.'
The inquest in Cheltenham heard that Mrs Davis had struggled to cope with handling the company's debts with being a mother to their two children, aged six and four.
Mr Davis said she was a 'fantastic woman' and wonderful mother.
'We went through a low point but we got through it with the help of counselling and I thought we had come out the other side. I clearly missed something. Nothing was as important as us and our family,' he said.
The inquest heard Mrs Davis went and knelt in front of a train on May 13 after receiving the tax demand.
Train driver Ian Green told how he sounded his horn when he spotted someone on the track and that at first, she had stepped out of harm's way.
'As I approached the first short tunnel around a bend at about 50 miles an hour, I saw a person standing near the line at the far end. There was work taking place on the line that day so I was not alarmed,' he said.
'I immediately sound a double horn warning and the person stepped back from the line. But as the train drew closer she stepped forward and knelt down on the line facing away from me. I applied the brakes but there was nothing I could do to avoid her.'
An Audi belonging to Mr and Mrs Davis was found parked in a lay-by nearby. The inquest heard there was a three-page debt management letter on the front seat referring to the unpaid tax bill.
The family firm, Chauffeurwise Ltd, had succeeded at first but had to sell half its fleet of eight cars when trade slowed, the hearing was told.
By 2008, it was in 'deep financial trouble', John Wilson from the British Transport Police said.
'Mrs Davis received counselling and was on anti-depressants,' he said. 'Mr Davies said their marriage had been blissfully happy and he thought the financial problems had been settled.
'But since her death 4,000 letters have been found which had been secreted around the house, and many contained cheques from customers which had they been cashed would have helped the company's situation.'
The inquest heard the Inland Revenue had contacted Mrs Davis several times about the outstanding debts and that even on the morning of her death, she had not shown signs of unusual behaviour on the phone.
Her GP Dr Susie Weir said her health had been generally good until 2006 when she gave her anti-depressants because she was struggling to cope with working full time and caring for her young children.
She saw her again in March 2009 and said she did not remember her being stressed or in a low mood but that she was back on anti-depressants at that point.