Published: 00:01, 24 July 2017
An under-pressure police officer killed himself weeks after being told he could lose half his salary or face dismissal due to unsatisfactory performance.
Raymond Thwaites, devoted husband and father of two young boys, hanged himself in the garage of his semi-detached home in Ditton on Sunday, April 30.
An inquest heard the 40-year-old Metropolitan police constable, who had served with the force since 2007, had been placed on gardening leave after reporting depression and suicidal thoughts in December shortly after a cancer scare.
He was prescribed antidepressants, went on a course of counselling and, as a result, his condition improved.
Shortly before his return to work at the end of March, Mr Thwaites was told the force’s HR department had asked for him to be put on the unsatisfactory performance procedures (UPP) due to his absence.
This could have resulted in him losing half his pay, dismissal or both, but was resisted by the senior officer in charge of his welfare.
The court at Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone heard how on April 30, after enjoying a family gathering in which he was described as being the life and soul of the party, the Acorn Grove resident returned home and took his life.
Potentially fatal levels of anti-depressants were found in his system, as were high quantities of alcohol.
Detective Sergeant Steve Longfield, who investigated the case, said he discovered concerning messages relating to the UPP on Mr Thwaites’ phone.
He said: “My conclusion from those messages was that it helped him decide to return to work knowing the HR department were applying pressure for him to be put on the unsatisfactory performance procedures.”
Giving evidence, Tanya Thwaites, wife of seven years, said her loving and committed husband had always wanted to be an officer.
Two years ago this began to change and he struggled to cope with the demands of long hours and raising his young family.
He intended to leave the force and had booked himself on a tiling course in Dartford.
No note was found at the scene and prior to his death his family had not been given any serious cause for concern.
Assistant coroner Alan Blunsdon gave a verdict of suicide.
Simon Dobinson, Greenwich Borough commander at the Met, said: "PC Thwaites had recently returned to work following a period of absence. Unsatisfactory performance procedures for absence were considered purely as a matter of adhering to organisational policy but fully discounted in the circumstances which was the correct decision.
"I am fully satisfied that as a borough we took every reasonable, appropriate and necessary step to engage with and support PC Thwaites. Colleagues were shocked and saddened to learn of his death and our thoughts and sympathies remain with his friends and family at this difficult time."
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