Widow pays tribute to Hampshire firefighter at inquest

TRAGIC Firefighter Martin Coles
TRAGIC Firefighter Martin Coles
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THE widow of a popular firefighter who took his own life told an inquest that he had taken on too much work.

Father-of-three Martin Coles was found dead in a wooded area in Wickham on August 9 last year. He had hanged himself.

An inquest in Winchester heard the 54-year-old, who was on call as a retained firefighter for Wickham and Botley fire stations, had been worrying about money and had been working hard before his death.

Less than two years earlier, Mr Coles had been demoted from his job as a manager at animal supplies store Botley Mills to a workshop foreman – a decision his family say he was unhappy about.

Winchester coroner’s court heard how the couple had had a disagreement about finances the previous evening.

But wife Jill Coles said it wasn’t a serious discussion.

Mrs Coles said: ‘I knew he was worried about money but not to that extent.

‘It wasn’t an argument, we were discussing what we were going to do. I think he was just doing too much.’

Mrs Coles told the court how she went to bed and woke up the next day to find her husband wasn’t there. Due to the nature of his work, she assumed that he had been called out during the night and only became suspicious when she spotted his car in the drive.

Mr Coles was found by a dog walker.

Mrs Coles paid tribute to her husband, adding: ‘He was probably the kindest man anyone would ever meet in their life.

‘He always wanted to help people. That’s all he ever did. He never complained.’

Mr Coles had no history of attempted suicide and no traces of drugs or alcohol was found in his blood.

Grahame Short, coroner for central Hampshire, said: ‘I’m satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he intended to hang himself due to the nature of his death.

‘It’s extremely sad but he clearly could see no way out of his situation. It was a shock to all of his family to lose him in that way. I would like to give my very deep sympathies to Mrs Coles and to all the friends and family of Martin.’

Mr Short recorded a verdict that Mr Coles had taken his own life.