Hanging remains a mystery

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THE DEATH of a young Wigan man who was found hanging in woods remains unexplained after an inquest.

The body of Christopher Darbyshire, 23, was found at the bottom of an embankment in a small plantation near his home on Salkeld Avenue in Ashton last November.

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard that Christopher left his home at around 11.30pm on November 11 after spending the afternoon and evening drinking with friends, but his whereabouts before the discovery of his body at around 9am the following morning could not be ascertained.

Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh recorded an open verdict, saying there was insufficient evidence to say exactly how Christopher had died.

He said: “How serious he was with regard to his intentions is difficult to say. I am sure that he did the act that caused his death, but I am not sure that he intended to take his own life at that time, because he left no note or message recording his intentions.

“I am not sure this was an accident or misadventure, and cannot discern the fact of whether he went into the Salkeld woods and constructed the ligature.

“I do not know what was in his mind at the time, and there is insufficient evidence to the requisite standard of proof to allow me to reach any conclusion other than an open verdict.”

The court was told that Christopher was generally a lively, bubbly person with his friends, though quieter and more reserved at home.

He had threatened to take his life on two previous occasions, but his mother Deborah told the court that at the time of his death he was enjoying his work at Pilkington’s and was planning a holiday in Amsterdam with friends.

She said: “There was an incident in 2010 when we had an argument over his drinking, and he went and stood on a motorway bridge and said he would jump, and I went and talked him down.

“There was another incident a week before he died. Again it was about drinking, we had a few words but not an argument. He told us afterwards he had been in the woods and was thinking about hanging himself.

“He didn’t want to talk about it when he came home, but he said he wouldn’t do it again and wanted to be left alone. We didn’t pursue it because we never thought he would actually do it.

“He wasn’t depressed, and he had lots of friends. He was the life and soul of any social group, and that’s why it’s so hard because we just didn’t see anything coming.”

A post-mortem revealed Christopher had around one and a half times the legal driving limit of alcohol and a low level of cocaine in his bloodstream when he died.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Wells said the alcohol he had drunk may have made him feel low, though would not have reduced his ability to make judgements.

Detective Constable Cameron Hackett of Greater Manchester Police told the court police investigations had ruled out any third party involvement in Christopher’s death, with no evidence of disturbance around the body.

Summing up the case, Alan Walsh said: “I wish I could answer some of the questions Mr and Mrs Darbyshire will have in their minds, and I am very, very sorry for their loss.

“It is a tragedy, and leaves a great sense of sadness, that a man in full time employment, with a supportive family, should die in these circumstances.”