Hanged fa­ther-of-four ‘adored his chil­dren’

Rossendale Free Press - - News -

A FA­THER-OF-FOUR was found hanged in a dis­used farm­house a few hours af­ter be­ing re­ported miss­ing to po­lice, an in­quest heard.

Phillip Heap, 41, of Oak Av­enue, Ris­ing Bridge, had a his­tory of de­pres­sion and pre­vi­ous sui­cide at­tempts and was dis­cov­ered at the build­ing in the grounds of Win­fields Out­doors store in Hasling­den on Oc­to­ber 24 last year.

At the hear­ing, his part­ner Jennifer Prestidge and mother Janet Heap have crit­i­cised the sup­port pro­vided by men­tal health ser­vices af­ter be­ing re­ferred for help in 2016.

Burn­ley Coro­ners Court heard how Ms Prestidge re­ported Mr Heap miss­ing at 8.50am and he was lo­cated by po­lice at 11.20am.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion found that he died from hang­ing and there were no al­co­hol or drugs in his sys­tem.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Paul Bar­low said Mr Heap was classed as a ‘high risk’ miss­ing per­son and the ‘only en­try in or out’ of the farm­house was through win­dows. A note was found at the scene which showed he in­tended to end his life, the hear­ing was told.

It also in­cluded an ‘apol­ogy to his fam­ily’, the in­quest heard.

Ms Prestidge praised the ‘bril­liant’ po­lice who helped search for Mr Heap but crit­i­cised the staff mem­ber who han­dled her 999 call.

The in­quest was told that Mr Heap had an ap­point­ment to speak with po­lice on the day of his death.

Ms Prestidge said: “When I phoned the po­lice and said what’s hap­pen­ing she was more in­ter­ested in the case we were go­ing to dis­cuss in­stead of whether he could be dead or not.

“It’s dis­gust­ing. I ex­pect a full apol­ogy from her. She had a duty of care to him. The po­lice that came to the house were bril­liant.”

Mrs Heap added: “We have to praise the of­fi­cers who were there on the day be­cause they were ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic with us.”

DI Bar­low told the fam­ily: “When some­body goes miss­ing like that quite a lot of re­sources go in to lo­cat­ing them.

“What we also do is re­fer ev­ery­thing to our po­lice com­plaints, which has been done. It will get in­ves­ti­gated fully to see if there is wrong­do­ing or in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness.”

The in­quest heard that for­mer TS Chem­i­cals worker Mr Heap was last seen by his GP in Septem­ber 2015 and was re­ferred to the men­tal health team in 2016.

Alex Craw­shaw, a men­tal health nurse at Community Restart, said he was re­ferred from Minds Mat­ter in Oc­to­ber 2016 and said Mr Heap was ‘ready to en­gage in some form of ther­apy and so­cial in­clu­sion’.

Mr Craw­shaw said he made a home visit to see Mr Heap and ‘tried to iden­tify some ac­tiv­i­ties that might in­ter­est him’, in­clud­ing gar­den­ing.

He said: “Mr Heap told me that he was in­ter­ested but wasn’t sure if he could get to the end of the street in a car with me, never mind be­ing able to achieve gar­den­ing in­de­pen­dently, be­cause of his anx­i­ety. He was not ready to en­gage or change at that point.”

Mr Craw­shaw said he sus­pected Mr Heap had some form of ADHD and he was given a self-re­fer­ral form to ac­cess the near­est ser­vices.

Kirsty Gor­man, a spe­cial­ist ADHD prac­ti­tioner at Lan­cashire Care NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, said they held a tele­phone triage ap­point­ment with Mr Heap in Novem­ber 2016 and ac­cepted him onto their wait­ing list. She also said that they wrote to Mr Heap with fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on how to self-re­fer for other as­sess­ments ‘if he chose to do so’.

The fam­ily told the in­quest they did not re­ceive a copy of the let­ter.

Ms Prestidge told the in­quest: “It just an­noys me that all the men­tal health team kept do­ing was re­fer­ring him back to his GP. They let him down. l Phillip Heap Be­cause he wouldn’t come out of the house that was it.”

Coro­ner Richard Tay­lor recorded a con­clu­sion of sui­cide. He said: “Fam­i­lies will al­ways ask the ques­tion what if and ask the ques­tion why? This must have been a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort for him.

“He must have been in­cred­i­bly fo­cused on what he was do­ing that day.”

Janet Heap said: “I think the why is why couldn’t we help him this time? Why didn’t we see it com­ing?”

Speak­ing af­ter the in­quest, she added: “Ev­ery­body loved Phillip. The neigh­bours on the street were mor­ti­fied be­cause they loved Phillip. He would do any­thing to help any­body and he ab­so­lutely wor­shipped and adored his chil­dren.”

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