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Man found shot dead in Canterbury had money worries, inquest hears

Flowers mark the spot where Malcolm Constable took his own life in Priest Avenue, Canterbury.
Flowers mark the spot where Malcolm Constable took his own life in Priest Avenue, Canterbury.

A man who shot himself in his brother’s back garden had money worries and was suffering with depression, an inquest has heard.

Builder Malcolm Constable, 58, was discovered with fatal head injuries at the house in Priest Avenue, Canterbury, by his older brother Derek.

In a statement to the hearing, Derek Constable said he had offered his brother somewhere to stay because he had been forced to sell his own home in Portsmouth to pay for care for one of his daughters who was mentally ill.

He said: “Malcolm was having to pay £800 a week. I was aware he was depressed and seeing the doctor but he never mentioned taking his own life.”

He described coming home from work at lunchtime on February 7 and not being able to find his brother in the house.

He said: “I called out ‘where are you Mally’ and then I saw the back door open and him lying face down on the ground with head injuries. I also saw the shotgun and could tell he was dead. I called the police and went to a neighbour’s.”

A post-mortem confirmed Mr Constable’s death had been from a shotgun injury but also that he had not been drinking or taking any drugs.

A police investigation found no suspicious circumstances but that Mr Constable, who had a shotgun licence, had bought the gun in Ashford without his brother’s knowledge a few days earlier for £300.

Their inquiries also revealed he had financial difficulties and had been signed off work with depression.

He was being treated by a local mental health team and the coroner read a statement by his occupational therapist, who said he had reported suicidal thoughts and stated it was “not worth going on”.

She said he felt depressed about his money worries, including credit cards and loans, and the break-up of a long-term relationship. But she said he told her he was not planning to take his own life because of his family.

The coroner also heard that both brothers already owned shotguns, which were locked away in a cabinet and needed both of them present to release them.

Recording a verdict that Mr Constable had taken his own life, deputy coroner James Dillon said it was most likely he had bought the gun for that purpose because the others were locked up.

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