Gorleston taxi driver suicide follows tragedies

PUBLISHED: 12:28 05 March 2011

A “KIND and intelligent” Gorleston taxi driver took his own life following a long-term battle with anxiety and psychiatric problems, an inquest heard.

Stuart Bird, 49, of New College Close, had become dependent on cannabis and medication to treat his anxiety, triggered by a number of tragedies in his life, including the deaths of his girlfriend and father.

He was found hanged at his home on October 8.

His daughter, Hayley Bird, was among a number of his relatives who attended the inquest at Yarmouth Magistrates Court on Wednesday. She said he expressed suicidal thoughts to her in the aftermath of his own father’s death on September 19.

“He did not tell me he would take his own life, but he did say ‘I wish I was in his position’ and ‘it should have been me’ and I just tried to spin him off those thoughts as soon as I could.”

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said Mr Bird’s problems began with the break-up of his marriage 20 years ago, but became worse when his girlfriend died from cancer in 1999.

In 2003, staff at Northgate Hospital in Yarmouth assessed him to be in a delusional state. In June 2007, his sister took him to visit doctors in Northgate Street, Yarmouth, but he said he would confront his demons himself.

When his father died, he initially helped out with the funeral arrangements, but disappeared two weeks later without warning, and failed to attend the funeral.

His neighbours called the police on October 8 after not hearing any noise from his home and his body was found by PC Darren Knight. Paperwork at his home suggested he had been dead for a long time.

Mr Bird’s brother Stephen described how he had become paranoid that he was suffering from financial problems during the last year of his life, even though there was no evidence to substantiate his fears.

“During the last 12 months of his life, he was strange. He was not acting himself. He was hearing voices and seeing things, beeping at imaginary people at roundabouts as he drove,” his brother added.

Describing the father-of-two as a very supportive person, Hayley added: “My dad as he was, and as I remember him, was so kind, he would help you at the drop of a hat. He was a very supportive, very intelligent man who was very old fashioned in his parenting style and would try to steer us in the right direction.”

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide while in a disturbed state of mind.

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