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Inquest into death of former teacher David Harding

A former teacher who was found hanged days before he was due to stand trial for historic sex offences left letters attributing some blame to police, an inquest heard.

David Harding, 81, was found dead at his home in Hillcrest Road, Kingsdown, on April 4 - five days before he was expected to go on trial at Guildford Crown Court in connection with 24 alleged offences against boys.

At his inquest at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone, assistant coroner Katrina Hepburn revealed "a number" of letters were found following the discovery of his body.

David Harding organised the choir at Kingsdown and Ringwould Primary
David Harding organised the choir at Kingsdown and Ringwould Primary

Their contents suggest an investigation at a higher level may be necessary.

She said: “One to his sister makes reference to particular police officers. There is some blame that he attributes to the police.”

She asked if either Kent or Surrey forces had referred the claims to the The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the body which investigates allegations made against police officers.

Detective Sergeant Holland Day was able to confirm that Kent Police had not.

No representative from Surrey Police was present at the hearing to answer.

Ms Hepburn resolved to adjourn the inquest while she made a referral to the IOPC to see if it would like to investigate.

"There is some blame that he [David Harding] attributes to the police" - assistant coroner Katrina Hepburn

She said: “I’m not saying they will want to, but I want to give them the choice.”

Ms Hepburn said due to her schedule, she had not been able to consider a report from Kent Police, adding: “I would like to take some time to digest the contents of this report.”

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: “We do not comment on active proceedings until they have reached a conclusion.

“We will be fully supportive of any investigation carried out by the IOPC or the coroner in establishing the circumstances of Mr Harding’s death.”

Mr Harding’s inquest was formally opened a week after his death on April 10.

David Harding took his life before standing trial
David Harding took his life before standing trial

The hearing was told how he was discovered by police who had forced entry to the property, after he had sent a letter to his sister informing her of his intentions.

Mr Harding had been charged with nine counts of indecent assault against boys under the age of 14 and 15 counts of inciting gross indecency against boys under the age of 14.

The alleged incidents are said to have happened between 1968 and 1981 at a school in Surrey.

Mr Harding, an organist, was well-known because of his involvement in many groups and societies.

These included the Deal Savoyards, St Margaret’s Players, Goodwin Potholing Club and Kingsdown Conservation Group.

He also organised the choir at Kingsdown and Ringwould Primary and produced Kent Magazine, a magazine distributed to 3,000 blind people in Kent.

Anyone in need of emotional support is urged to call the Samaritans on 116 123. Kent County Council's Release the Pressure campaign also urges people to call 0800 107 0160 where support is available from trained and experienced mental health staff, 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

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