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Sevenoaks: Former family judge took his own life after dementia diagnosis

A former top family judge hanged himself in his room at a care home after being diagnosed with a rare form of dementia, an inquest heard.

Sir Nicholas Wall, a former president of the Family Division, was found by a nurse at the Emily Jackson House Care Home in Sevenoaks.

The 71-year-old had left a handwritten note explaining he could no longer live in the wake of his diagnosis of fronto-temporal dementia.

Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone
Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone

Giving evidence during an inquest held at Archbishops Palace in Maidstone, Detective Sergeant Robert Greeve said a care home worker raised the alarm shortly after 2am on February 17.

He said: “Sir Wall retired for health reasons in 2012. At 1.55am on February 17 a nurse was conducting routine checks and she came to room 12. She noticed Sir Wall wasn’t in bed and there was a shadow near the window.”

Despite her shouting there was no response and no pulse could be felt. The carer then called for help from another worker at the home in Eardley Road.

A letter spanning six sides of A4 was found in his room at the care home.

DS Greeve said: “In brief the letter said Sir Wall had lost the will to live and that he will not get better and there was no hope of returning home.”

Sir Nicholas was at one point Britain's most senior family law judge. He was called to the Bar in 1969, appointed Queen's Council in 1988.

In 2004 he was promoted to the Court of Appeal and in 2010 became President of the High Court Family Division. He was forced to retire on health grounds in 2012.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, senior coroner Roger Hatch said: “It is clear from the note left by Sir Nicholas Wall that it was his intention to take his own life.”

Sir Nicholas Wall leaves behind his wife Margaret, his four children and two grandchildren.

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