Tragic Southsea businessman took his own life amid firm’s mounting debts

TRAGIC Paul Ford
TRAGIC Paul Ford
Courts of Justice

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A LARGER than life dad hanged himself after his business plunged into turmoil with spiralling debts.

Paul Ford was found dead at Strand Motors in Port Royal Street, Southsea.

The father-of-three’s firm was debt-ridden at the time of his death.

But a Portsmouth inquest yesterday heard how the businessman had kept his problems hidden from staff – and even his wife Tanya.

Only the day before his death a meeting was due to take place with Strand Motors’ creditors to discuss a way of repaying the firms’s debts.

But the meeting did not go ahead.

The next day police acted on intelligence that vehicles being operated by Strand had been driven uninsured for more than a month.

Officers pulled two minibuses over early that morning – whose drivers said they were unaware of the issue.

Mr Ford, of Chilsdown Way, Waterlooville, was called after the first vehicle was stopped shortly before 8am on February 18 and said he would sort the problem out. A second vehicle was stopped and a police officer called Mr Ford – again just before 8am. He did not answer.

CCTV taken at Strand Motors showed Mr Ford, 43, arrive there at 8.03am and enter the building. He returned to the his Jeep briefly and went back inside.

A man who rents office space on-site – not linked to the firm – entered the garage via the open door at about 8.25am and found Mr Ford.

His son dialled 999 while the man tried in vain to resuscitate him. Paramedics arrived at the scene minutes later and Mr Ford was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham where he was later pronounced dead.

Detective Sergeant Tina Lowe said: ‘There was no indication that Mr Ford planned his death. He has been described by a number of people as having a larger than life personality but he didn’t discuss any money worries with them.’ A post mortem revealed Mr Ford died due to hanging. Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire coroner David Horsley recorded a verdict that Mr Ford took his own life.