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Family baffled by popular teacher’s suicide

PUBLISHED: 09:04 19 May 2010

Owain Richards

Owain Richards

Archant

THE brother of a popular headteacher who took his own life has admitted he will never know the reason for the tragedy.

Yesterday’s inquest into the death of Owain Richards heard the 42-year-old father-of-two took his own life earlier this year by hanging himself

Mr Richards was the headteacher at Cliff Lane Primary School in Ipswich. He was a former deputy headteacher of Great Bentley Primary School and had been a teacher at Burrsville Primary School, in Clacton-on-Sea/

His friends and family are still struggling to come to terms with his death on February 7.

The inquest heard that Mr Richards’ partner, Lisa Duff-Godfrey, had returned to their home in Saturn Road, Ipswich, with her father, and found Mr Richards hanging from the loft hatch. Police and a paramedic arrived at about 7.10pm and his death was officially confirmed.

A post-mortem examination conducted by Dr John Chapman found the cause of death was suspension by ligature. It was also found that Mr Richards had a “significant” level of paracetamol in his stomach – but it had not contributed to his death.

The inquest in Ipswich also heard there was also a note left by Mr Richards.

At the time of his death, his widow, Angela Richards, of Mumford Road, West Bergholt, said his family and friends were “struggling” to come to terms with his death.

The couple had two children, Charlotte, 12, and seven-year-old Oscar.

Mr Richards’ older brother, Andy, 45, of south London, said after the inquest: “It is incredibly sad that so many people loved him, respected him, cared for him and that he decided to take his own life.

“There were more than 250 people at his funeral. All these people cared about him and yet he felt he was on his own – there is a certain irony in that.

“He was very stressed and very angry about things but you did not ever think he would do something like this. I will never know why he did it.”

His brother had been going through a tough time following the separation from his wife Angela in 2008 as it meant reduced contact with his children.

“He wanted to be there for his children. He loved them so much. It was hard for him for just seeing them at weekends.

“Owain’s sudden and tragic death has been a complete shock and we are still struggling to come to terms with it. He was much-loved and will be greatly missed by the whole family, friends and work colleagues.”

After the inquest, on behalf of Miss Duff-Godfrey, her friend Josie Sarro, said: “She would like to thank all the family and friends for support at this time.”

Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: “It was clear there had been some difficulties and stresses at that time.

“It is clear from the circumstances that he understood and intended the very sad outcome of these actions.

“I will record a verdict that he took his own life.”

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