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FATHER KILLED HIMSELF AFTER BENEFITS CUT

An unemployed dad stabbed himself twice through the heart when his family faced losing their home to housing benefit cuts, an inquest heard.

Desperate Richard Sanderson, 44, drew up meticulous suicide plans after learning he could no longer afford the flat he shared with his wife and nine-year-old son.

The family had received a letter stating their housing benefit would be cut by £30 a month, leaving them with ‘nowhere to go’, Westminster Coroners Court heard.

Mr Sanderson was found dead in the bath by wife Petra on Sunday, May 29 with three stab wounds to his chest and abdomen.

A diagram showing the position of the heart in the body had been mounted on one wall and three kitchen knives were on a folding table next to the bath.

Suicide notes addressed to his family and the police had been placed on his bed, along with more anatomical diagrams.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Fiona Wilcox described the case as ‘particularly tragic.’

She added: ‘This appears to have been done by a man who was fully compos mentis and was not suffering from a depressive illness.

‘He carried out a considered act in response to his inability to find employment and the fact that his housing benefit was about to be cut and the family would have faced having no-where to live.

‘It does appear to be especially poignant and tragic.’

Mr Sanderson, of Southfields, south west London, had waited until his wife was at work and son Matthew was away at a Scout camp to carry out his plans.

When Mrs Sanderson returned to their flat on Roosevelt Court, Augustus Road, she found a note warning her not to go into the bathroom.

Finding her husband in the bath, she called an ambulance and paramedics pronounced him dead at about 4.30pm.

Ms Wilcox read out a statement on behalf of Mrs Sanderson, who had been ‘too upset’ to attend the hearing.

In it, she said: ‘We received a letter from the council saying our housing benefit would be cut by £30, forcing us to move but leaving us with nowhere to go.

‘Despite this, I hadn't noticed any major change in Richard’s mood. I don't know why he killed himself. We had planned to go to Wimbledon Common the next day.’

Mrs Sanderson, who recently found out she was being made redundant, had already saved her husband from one suicide attempt in June 2010.

He spent two days in intensive care after she found him unconscious on the kitchen floor, having taken a potentially-lethal dose of tranquillizers.

Afterwards, Mr Sanderson was sectioned under the Mental Health Act but psychiatrists found he had ‘no treatable mental illness.’

Having been unemployed for several years, he wanted his wife and son to be able to cash in on his life insurance policy.

In a note to police, read out by Ms Wilcox, he explained his motives for suicide.

He said: ‘My wife has no knowledge of my intended plan to take my life this weekend.

‘The event is a cut and dried case of an individual who has the right to determine his own existence.’

Born in County Durham, Mr Sanderson took on a range of jobs from helicopter pilot to window cleaner before moving to South Africa in the early 90s.

There he met his wife and they married in 1995, returning to England in 2007 when they both faced unemployment.

He tried to train as an electrician in London, but had to give up his course because the Jobcentre required him to be available for interviews at all times.

Verdict: suicide.

Ends

Memo

No family present

Ends memo

 
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