Haunted by bedroom tax debt torment

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A MAN saddled with extra debt after a hike in his rent because of the bedroom tax took his own life, an inquest heard.

Bolton Coroner’s Court was told John Walker, from Marsh Green, was found hanged at his home by his former partner Susan Martin in May after she went to his home as he had sounded upset and low during their phone conversations.

The court heard Mr Walker, 57, had been worried about mounting financial problems with loans and his credit card due to being out of work, and had also disagreed with the JobCentre who had told him he was fit to work despite his complaints of an injury to his back.

His difficulties with money were compounded by being forced to pay extra rent on his property under the so-called “bedroom tax”, which was introduced earlier this year.

The inquest was also told Mr Walker had problems with heavy drinking, and was upset when he was unable to provide presents for his daughter because he had blown money set aside on booze.

Ms Martin told the court: “In the weeks leading up to his death a few things troubled him. He was out of work and struggling to pay a loan, and he was also still trying to pay for a place in Torquay which had been repossessed and sold for less than we bought it for.

“He didn’t really express his feelings but things upset him. I still tried to see him regularly because he had distanced himself from a lot of his friends and his family back in Birmingham.”

Mr Walker came to Wigan in 2001 and later moved into the property in Hampden Place where he was living at the time of his death. Born in the West Midlands he had previously moved to Weymouth, where he worked in holiday camps, and to Torquay, where he found work in a hotel.

Police quickly ruled outfoul play and officers also found a note in the property.

A post-mortem investigation revealed the only system in his body at the time of his death were low levels of paracetamol consistent with medicinal use and could not have impaired his judgement.

Recording a suicide verdict, deputy coroner Alan Walsh said: “To some extent, his life was ruined by his inability to stop drinking.”