Husband shot himself after wife's death

PUBLISHED: 06:01 23 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:02 24 May 2010

A PENSIONER shot himself because he could not cope with mourning his wife who had died of cancer, an inquest heard. Peter Whitcombe, of Old Burnham Road, Burnham, killed himself with a shotgun. He was 66. Mr Whitcombe's wife of 40 years died of cancer in

A PENSIONER shot himself because he could not cope with mourning his wife who had died of cancer, an inquest heard.Peter Whitcombe, of Old Burnham Road, Burnham, killed himself with a shotgun. He was 66.Mr Whitcombe's wife of 40 years died of cancer in October 2004.His daughter, Bridget Griffiths, went round to his house at 9.30am on August 22 last year and spent around 15 minutes talking to him.Mrs Griffiths, of North Avenue, Highbridge, said: "My sister or I would take meals round to him a couple of times each week but he was very capable. I asked him what he was doing that day. He said he didn't know."Mrs Griffiths said he showed no visible signs of distress. She got home at 10am and received a call from her father around 10 minutes later.She said: "He said: 'Goodbye. I can't live in this house on my own.' I was concerned about the tone of the conversation. I said to him don't take your own life, I'm coming."Mrs Griffith's daughter heard her shouting and they went together to find him.Mr Whitcombe, who was a gardener before he retired, had driven to a friend's house in Jaycroft Road, Burnham, and Mrs Griffiths found him lying in the driveway next to his car. He had shot himself.His friend was inside the house but did not know what happened until Mr Whitcombe's family arrived.Mrs Griffiths said her father kept a set of guns and knew how to handle them and the dangers they posed.Mr Whitcombe's GP, Dr David Gauld, of Burnham Medical Centre, told the inquest his patient showed no signs of his distress: "Since his wife's death he seemed to be getting on with life and was making good progress. I didn't think he was suffering from depression."West Somerset coroner Michael Rose said: "Mr Whitcombe's wife's death was a terrible blow to him. His daughters took great care with their father, who was a capable man. "No-one close to him realised the turmoil going on in his mind. But something snapped that day. I extend my deepest sympathy to the family. I am sorry they have to go through this."Mr Rose recorded a verdict that Peter Whitcombe took his own life when the balance of his mind was disturbed.

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