Pensioner found hanged days after release from prison was ‘not on suicide watch’ his widow tells inquest

A PENSIONER was found hanged in a probation-run hostel just days after being released from jail for an assault on his wife, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 7:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 7:33 pm
An inquest jury is hearing details of the death of 66-year-old Anthony Walker

Jurors were told how Anthony Walker, 66, was released from jail on November 3 and was staying at The Grange in Waterlooville.

Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard staff found him hanging in his room at the hostel on November 16 in 2017.

Jurors heard he was on normal checks by staff - but that he had attempted to kill himself at his wife’s home on November 4, had seen a GP with ‘mental distress’ on November 9 and had been to A&E on November 11 due to ‘suicidal thoughts’.

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An inquest jury is hearing details of the death of 66-year-old Anthony Walker

Part-time offender supervisor member Dave Murray, a former police officer of 30 years, told jurors residents were put on a ‘heightened’ regime of hourly checks if there was a ‘heightened’ risk of suicide but Mr Walker, an alcoholic, was not on this.

Mr Murray, who found Mr Walker dead, said he did not go into the room fully or cut him down in order to preserve the integrity of the area in case of a suspicious death. He told jurors there was blood pooling in Mr Walker’s legs and his skin looked waxen - indicating he was dead.

Asked if he would have done anything different, Mr Murray said: ‘I’ve thought about it a number of times whether there would be something I should have done differently, gone in, cut the body down.

‘I believe and in hindsight I don’t think I’d have done anything different. I think what we did was with the best interests of Tony at heart.’

Pictured is Rebecca Wray outside Portsmouth Coroner's Court during the inquest into her father Anthony Walker's death. She is standing alongside her sisters Sarah Carro and Emma Harlow, and her mother Jennifer Walker. Picture: Ben Fishwick

Mr Walker’s widow Jennifer Walker told the jury how she received three phone calls from Mr Walker the night before his death - but he made her promise not to raise concerns with the hostel.

Asked if she told the hostel about any concerns, his wife said: ‘No, because of where he was. I assumed as he had been on suicide watch in prison and on remand I assumed he was being watched by them.’

The coroner’s court heard that in the first call he said he was not going to be allowed’ back to their family home.

During another call Mr Walker called himself ‘scum’ and said he ‘shouldn’t be alive’ in a call, she said.

In the second call Mr Walker said he ‘didn’t know where I’m going to go, what I’m going to do’ and kept repeating his prisoner number.

In the third call Mr Walker asked his wife to promise not to call the hostel and tell staff he was upset, which she did. ‘I didn’t know,’ she told jurors, ‘I wish I had.’

She had told jurors she wanted her keen gardener husband to live with her and his 90-year-old mother.

Mrs Walker, who was married for 46 years, said: ‘I wanted him home - I did.

‘Apart from me there was his hold mum of 90 and she was desperate to see him.

‘Why I wanted him home? I was prepared to work along with anyone  who would help him sort him out. Yes, I wanted help.’

Mr Walker’s widow told the court that in June her husband had come into her bedroom at their Isle of Wight home and ‘put his hands round my neck and said: “do you want to die like what I do” and realised what he’d done and pushed me off the bed’.