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A POLICE officer struggled with stresses at work and a number of family deaths before he died, an inquest has heard.
Richard Hooley served as a family liaison officer and in the road traffic collisions unit for Cheshire Police.
Warrington Coroner's Court heard that on Tuesday, September 26 last year he drove to the Thelwall Viaduct and ended his life.
Coroner Alan Moore, 50, said Mr Hooley had been ‘blighted by unexpected deaths in his family’ and that grief ‘characterised his attitude to life’.
Eye witnesses who were driving along the M6 at the time gave statements to the court today, Wednesday.
Antonia McGann, saw Mr Hooley in his final moments.
She said: “I saw a white car pull over to the side of the road and a man got out.
“It was a matter of seconds between him leaving the car and jumping from the bridge, I didn’t even get time to roll down my window and shout out to him.”
CCTV confirmed the short amount of time between Hooley leaving his car and jumping.
Mr Hooley’s body was found a short time later by PC Brian Pritchard and paramedics confirmed his death at 9.51am.
Detective Inspector Hannah Friend was also on duty and attended the scene.
In a statement she said she was ‘saddened’ to be able to identify the man as her colleague PC Richard Hooley.
No note was found in the vehicle or at his home.
A forensic toxicology report found no traces of alcohol or drugs in Mr Hooley’s system and a post mortem examination confirmed he died of an extensive head injury with multiple bone fractures.
The court heard how Mr Hooley had visited his GP in Middlewich in the months leading up to his death and said he felt some stress that was affecting his work. He was given a sick note for work and counselling was suggested which he undertook.
Reduced hours appeared to help Mr Hooley with his stress but his counsellor, Fiona Damm, concluded in his session that he had moderate to severe depression and severe anxiety, the court heard.
The dad-of-two told Ms Damm that he had experienced suicidal thoughts but no intentions, because of his love for his two daughters.
told Ms Damm that others saw him as a ‘good egg’ but that the death of his sister had affected him badly.
Having lost 19 family members since he was a child, Ms Damm stated he appeared a ‘bystander in his life’ and there was ‘much more despair and trauma under the surface than he opened up about’.
During his last visit to the GP he said he was feeling a lot better in himself and had resumed his normal work duties.
Mr Hooley and his wife Hayley were married for 12 years and had separated a year before his death. However they remained in constant contact and friends and Mrs Hooley stated how ‘everything was the same we just lived in different houses’.
They decided to live apart after Mr Hooley was deeply affected by the death of her nephew.
The pair spoke the morning of Mr Hooley’s death after he spent the night at his dad’s house.
Mrs Hooley told the court how he had spoken on two occasions previously about ending his life but gave her no reason to believe he would do it.
Both Mrs Hooley and Edward Hooley, Mr Hooley's father, said there was no indication in the lead up to his death that he would end his life.
Coroner Alan Moore concluded his death was by suicide and offered his condolences to Richard’s family and friends.
Moore added: “He did a sterling job as a family liaison officer as seen in this court room many times in that capacity.”