Tragic death of former Wigan Warriors player who was 'such a joy to be around'

A former Wigan Warriors player and doting dad died suddenly at home at the age of 49, an inquest heard.
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Paul Stevens’ loved ones told Bolton Coroner’s Court that they had no concerns for him in the days before his death.

But his body was found at his home on Lodge Road, Orrell, on Friday, October 27 by his partner Rebecca Smith, who had gone to look for him after not being able to contact him by phone.

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The inquest heard Mr Stevens was born in Wigan and became a rugby player, spending time with Wigan Warriors and London Broncos.

His professional rugby league career was cut short due to a groin injury, but he became a coach at Orrell St James’ ARLFC.

He worked as a plumber, had two teenage children, enjoyed going to the gym and had a lot of friends.

His sister Karen Bradshaw said: “Everybody loved him. He was a lot of fun. He was such a joy to be around.”

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She said they were a “close” family and he “took it badly” when their father died in May. They shared a love of rugby and worked together in the plumbing industry for many years, she said.

The inquest also heard that Mr Stevens was being evicted from his home – though he did not tell anyone and it was only revealed when letters were found after he died.

Miss Smith said she knew he did not have a lot of money when they met and recalled bailiffs going to his house around 18 months before he died for unpaid child maintenance.

She also said he had less work in the last eight months and he spent more time in the pub instead.

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The couple did not live together but spoke every day and Miss Smith did not notice anything that concerned her in the days before he died.

But when she could not contact him on the afternoon of Friday, October 27, she went to look for him at home and a nearby pub, where his van was parked.

Mr Stevens was not at the pub, so she went to his house and found a note to call the police, before discovering his body.

A post-mortem examination recorded he died by hanging.

A police investigation did not find any criminally suspicious circumstances, the inquest heard.

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Both Mrs Bradshaw and Miss Smith said Mr Stevens had never threatened to harm himself and records from his GP showed no issues with his mental health.

Coroner Simon Nelson said there was “no other logical explanation” other than that Mr Stevens died by his own hand.

He recorded that Mr Stevens died by suicide.

After his death, a statement from Wigan Warriors said they were “saddened” and sent condolences to his family.

A tribute from Orrell St James’ said: “Stevo’s personality was infectious, his love and commitment to the game was unparalleled and his guidance he gave to the team has made them into brilliant young men.

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"The wider OSJ family send out our deepest sympathy and condolences to all of Paul’s family, friends and the under 16s players and coaches.”

If you need to talk to someone, call Samaritans at any time on 116 123.