Tragedy of rugby coach

Former Leigh Academy coach Lloyd Pugsley

Former Leigh Academy coach Lloyd Pugsley

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A RUGBY coach’s widow has told how wedding joy turned to tragedy within weeks.

At the inquest into her husband Lloyd’s death, Paula Pugsley said that only a month after they returned from a Vegas honeymoon her new husband’s behaviour changed dramatically.

The 49-year-old from Sandy Lane, Lowton, was concerned about a possible reoccurrence of the bowel cancer he had battled several years before and he had financial concerns relating to the sale of the house he shared with his ex-wife.

The Bolton inquest was also told he had misgivings about his wife going on an overnight stay with work colleagues in York on the night of November 29 last year, the day before he died. Mrs Pugsley, a housing manager, said: “He said he felt like he was losing his family and losing me.”

On the day leading up to his death, Mr Pugsley swapped his diesel Ford Focus for a petrol engine Renault Clio with friend and work colleague Josh Bridge.

Mr Bridge told the court Mr Pugsley had initiated the exchange explaining that one of his construction sites had been broken into and he wanted a car that was not his own so that he could sit and wait for the offenders.

Shortly after 9pm, Mr Pugsley called brother-in-law Peter O’Toole asking for help starting the car as he had not been able to start it after picking up a gazebo that had been left at Lowton Sailing Club from his wedding reception.

Mr O’Toole, who went to the Sailing Club, on Green Lane, with jump leads, said: “He was his normal self.”

Later in the night, Mr Bridge received text messages from Mr Pugsley asking how to open the car bonnet and how to switch off the automatic headlights while the vehicle’s engine was running.

The next morning, Mrs Pugsley called the police and returned from York having read a text message from her husband that had been sent around midnight suggesting that he intended to take his own life.

Mr Pugsley was found in the afternoon by Sailing Club member Bryn Griffiths who noticed the vehicle, which was obscured from view by a boat, had its engine running.

There was a sheet over the front window and the headlights were covered in duct tape.

Police officers found a picture of Mr and Mrs Pugsley attached to the dashboard.

A post-mortem examination found that no alcohol, drugs or any substance that could have affected his judgement was in Mr Pugsley’s system at the time of his death.

The court also heard that he had been given the all clear about a reoccurrence of his bowel condition days before.

The level of carboxyhemoglobin in his blood was more than 60 per cent, with the court being told that levels of 50 per cent can lead to fatality.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Walsh acknowledged that Mr Pugsley had changed his behaviour in the week leading to his death which may have been attributed to worries about his health, his financial situation and unfounded misgivings about his wife’s trip away.

He said: “I find it very, very sad that a man this age felt moved to take his own life for reasons that appear to have been in his mind.”