Young dad’s death a ‘tragic waste of life’

Ryan Whatton
Ryan Whatton
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A coroner spoke of a Wigan family’s unimaginable grief after finding a young dad “with everything to live for” intentionally took his own life.

Timothy Brennand, assistant coroner for Manchester West, recorded a conclusion of suicide after hearing about the life of Ryan Whatton.

Ryan was just 24 when his body was found in the River Douglas close to Crooke on March 16. A ligature was discovered at the scene.

Mr Brennand said that although there was no note and Ryan’s death came as an appalling and inexplicable shock to his loved ones the circumstances told him he intended to bring his life to a tragically-short close.

He said: “A young man decided to leave his partner unexpectedly without good cause or explanation in the small hours of the morning.

“He indicated he simply wished to be left alone. Thereafter he chose to find a remote and secluded spot and to do what he did.

“This was no cry for help, or temporary aberration. The only inference I can draw is that he intended he wasn’t going to be discovered.

“This all points to one inescapable conclusion.

“I know this is not the conclusion the family wanted in this case. The court wishes to extend our profound condolences.

“I cannot begin to imagine what you have gone through. Your dignity at inquest and the pain etched on your faces shows the obvious love you have for your boy.

“This appears to be such a tragic and needless waste of life, of a young man aged just 24 who had everything to live for. I am so very sorry.”

The court heard Ryan worked as a labourer and enjoyed drinking socially and meeting friends.

He also took cocaine on and off but had tried both care services and alternative therapies to quit the drug, with his efforts intensifying following the birth of his son.

Post-mortem reports found he had alcohol and cocaine in his system consistent with recreational use and therapeutic levels of a prescribed drug.

His partner Nicola Horrobin said that on Thursday March 16 she had woken up at 5am and when she turned to him to get him up for work he told her he needed a minute.

He went downstairs and said he wanted to go out, becoming more agitated as she took his trainers to prevent him leaving the house. Ms Horrobin described this to the court as completely out of character.

He left and she rang his phone a short time later to see if he would be returning, and he told her he would. Further attempts to contact his phone were unsuccessful.

Medical records showed that Ryan had attended the GP several times with dizziness, headaches and similar symptoms in November and December 2016, but scans and tests had found nothing.

His parents David and Cheryl Whatton told the court they had no idea why he would take his own life and after his death his friends had all been equally shocked.

A joint statement said: “He was a bit mischievous as a boy, always having fun and joking about.

“Later he worked hard as a labourer and also enjoyed life. He was a party-loving guy.”

The court heard Ryan had met Ms Horrobin around seven weeks before his death and was also planning on taking his son to Spain on holiday with his parents.

An investigation by police ruled out any suspicious circumstances.