Depression overcame former mountain guide, says coroner

Date: Friday 4th July 2014

A FORMER mountain guide who was suffering from severe headaches and was unable to walk for more than a few hundred yards because of hip and knee pain was found hanging in an area of woodland near his home at Laithes, Penrith, an inquest held in Kendal was told.

Peter Anthony Barry, aged 75, died on 22nd March after several weeks of mental deterioration, the hearing was told on Thursday.

His widow, Claire Elizabeth Barry, said he had suffered from a reduced ability to concentrate, and had been unable to properly operate his computer or a new watch he had bought. He was concerned about the state of his hips and knees, which meant he could no longer walk very far.

He went to see his GP because he was feeling low and suffering from severe headaches, which were occurring several times a day.

Mrs. Barry also said her husband had been taking an antidepressant drug ever since an episode in 2009 which culminated in him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and spending a time in the Carleton Clinic, Carlisle.

Dr. Adrian Scott, of the Birbeck Medical Group, Penrith, said he had seen Mr. Barry on two occasions, in February and March. His patient’s main issues were depression, hip pain and recurring headaches, in addition to which he was suffering from high blood pressure.

According to Dr. Scott, he referred Mr. Barry to the mental health team, as well as attempting to deal with his other issues.

Mrs. Barry asked whether, given her husband’s medical history, he ought to have been offered mental health support on a more urgent basis, but Dr. Scott said he had not expressed any suicidal thoughts, and had showed some positive signs.

PC Colin Airey said Mr. Barry’s body had been discovered hanging from a tree on the edge of an area of woodland between Laithes and Catterlen. A set of aluminium stepladders was found nearby, and there were no suspicious circumstances.

Concluding that Mr. Barry died as a consequence of his own actions while suffering from a mental illness, coroner Ian Smith said: “Depression overcame him and led him to do what he would not have done in the cold light of day.”