Policeman ‘could not face’ child sex allegations

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A WIGAN police officer took his own life after being suspended following allegations of serious child sex offences.

Area coroner Alan Walsh, recorded that former paratrooper Colin Anthony Fearnyough, of Warrington Road, Abram, had killed himself in woods off Belle Green Lane, Ince, on August 8.

The inquest, held in Bolton, heard that police launched a missing person’s appeal after the 49-year-old, who was on police bail, failed to turn up to the station on August 6.

Mr Fearnyough, who had served with Greater Manchester Police for 16 years doing specialist and undercover work, was suspended from duties in February after he had been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office and inciting children to commit sexual offences.

His bail hearing was brought forward to August 6 as he was going to be charged, although the inquest heard that the allegations had not been proven.

Mr Fearnyough’s sister, Geraldine Hughes, said that when she last saw him, on August 4, he had asked her whether she thought an unofficial written note about intentions for a will and his possessions and assets would be accepted.

She said: “I think he came to say goodbye. I believe that, with hindsight, he wanted to take his own life.”

His brother, Roy, said that over the last few years he had become slightly depressed and started to neglect his appearance.

He added that he was a private man, who didn’t reveal much and he last saw him on July 26, where there was no mention of suspension, but he had said he wanted to retire.

He added that he was aware that Mr Fearnyough, who had also done two tours in Northern Ireland as a member of the parachute regiment, had seen both his sisters on August 4 and said he loved them and seemed unusually upbeat.

The inquest heard that Mr Fearnyough’s friend, Alex Crosby, had lived with him for around four years.

Mr Crosby’s girlfriend, Natasha Taylor had stayed over on August 5, and that was the last time they had both seen him.

Ms Taylor had heard Mr Fearnyough’s phone ringing the following morning and aware that he had to be at the police station to answer his bail, was alarmed to discover he was not in the house, but had left his phone.

Neither Mr Crosby or Ms Taylor had heard him leave.

His friend and fellow motorcycle enthusiast Sean McKenna, added that he had seen him earlier in the day on August 5 and he seemed worried but did not divulge why.

The police launched an investigation into his disappearance that day, where he was deemed high risk.

He was found two days later - just after 6.30am on August 8 in the woods known as Applethwaite, off Belle Green Lane. But police could not establish where he had been over the last two days,

He had only taken his house keys and had no change of clothes.

Police concluded that the bridlepath was regularly used and in daylight, walkers would have discovered him, so it was likely he had entered the woods sometime on the evening of August 7 or in the early hours of August 8.

Police then discovered notes at his home, which stated his intentions for a will and funeral details.

A post-mortem revealed Mr Fearnyough, who was openly gay, had died as a result of suspension by ligature and there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in his system.

Mr Walsh concluded: “Colin had given service to his country in the armed forces which had made him brave and resilient and capable of surviving outdoors and avoiding detection.

“He was a good man who had served the community through his time in the police. However, he had certain problems in life which led to the police investigation and it saddens me that the last six months of his life had been tainted by these.

“I am sure he intended to take his own life. It was likely they serious matters were troubling him and he could not face these.”