Open verdict into death of ‘workaholic’

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THE wife of a ‘workaholic’ managing director of a West Hallam firm – whose body was found on the back seat of a car – is convinced her husband did not mean to take his own life, an inquest has heard.

Father-of-three Steven Wright, 56, was missing for two days before he was found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning by his business partner Gary Hamson in his mother-in-law’s Peugeot 206 inside a locked garage in Sandiacre, on May 6.

Wife of 26 years, Julie Wright said she thought her husband, of Hallmark Independent Financial Services, might have been looking for ‘some peace and quiet’, as he was found with his portable TV plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter and was wearing a sleeping mask.

She added: “He wouldn’t have left me and the girls without saying goodbye.

“It sounds silly, but I don’t do paperwork. There was nothing to help me as to where I go from here and that wouldn’t be Steve at all. I am thankful to his brothers for helping me.”

She explained that her husband suffered from migraines and wore a type of mask to help him sleep and carried the portable TV with him everywhere to help him relax.

Despite this, assistant deputy coroner Paul McCandless recorded an open verdict, saying he could not prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Mr Wright had not intended to take his own life.

“Steve was clearly a quiet gentleman, not one to kick off,” he said. “A highly conscientious man and family-oriented.”

Mrs Wright, a district nurse, explained to the court how her husband would often stay over at her mother Grace Owen’s house in Oak Avenue as it was nearer to the High Lane East firm than their home in Bessacarr, Doncaster.

“We just wanted to know where he was,” she told Derby Coroners Court, explaining that it was not like him to not answer calls from her or their three daughters.

After he had been missing for two days, Mrs Wright called Mr Hamson and they searched around Stoney Clouds in Sandiacre – a beauty spot, where he would often go walking – to no avail.

“When I saw the keys to the garage were missing, I was hysterical,” she added. “I had a feeling something was wrong.”

The court heard that Mr Wright had gone missing once before, staying in a Premier Inn hotel around the corner from his home for a night, later explaining he wanted to ‘clear his head’ because of work pressure.

And Mr Hamson described his friend as a ‘workaholic’ and ‘introspective’ and admitted he was under pressure in his job.

“We were both working long hours but I didn’t realise just how much Steve was doing – he was working 12 or 13 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.

But the court heard that despite going missing on the Wednesday, Mr Wright had made important business appointments for the next day and the following Monday and had laid his clothes out for work at Mrs Owen’s house.