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Christopher Fisher from Headcorn found dead in Dering Woods, Smarden, after taking his own life

An autistic man who struggled with drastic changes to his life disappeared moments before a fire at his home, an inquest heard.

Christopher Fisher left his home in Headcorn on the morning of August 9 with his cocker spaniel Molly but neither ever returned.

A coroner was told the 31-year-old had struggled with stress in the wake of cuts to his disability allowance and a change in support worker while coming to terms with his grandmother's death.

Christopher Fisher was found a week after he went missing from his home in Headcorn
Christopher Fisher was found a week after he went missing from his home in Headcorn

Mr Fisher's disappearance was reported by Kent Fire and Rescue Service as they responded to a 999 call following a fire at the family home in Bankfields at around 10am.

This sparked a huge search across Headcorn and the surrounding areas before his Vauxhall Corsa was found parked close to Dering Woods in Smarden around four hours later.

On August 17, eight days after he went missing, Mr Fisher was found hanging from a tree by a member of the public.

Assistant coroner Katrina Hepburn concluded there was no third party involvement and that Mr Fisher intended to take his own life.

Christopher Fisher's dog Molly was never found
Christopher Fisher's dog Molly was never found

Recording a conclusion of suicide, she said: "I find from the evidence this is a person of routine no doubt linked to his autism.

"There was a significant effort to locate him with a number of agencies assisting in the search and this continued over seven days.

"In the woods he was discovered hanging from a tree."

Mr Fisher had been suffering from migraines in the days leading up to his death and he took medication to help relieve symptoms.

A toxicology report found both morphine and alcohol in his system at the time he was discovered.

Dering Wood, Pluckley
Dering Wood, Pluckley

Mrs Hepburn added: "Chris was alone save for the possibly his dog being with him. There were a number of factors causing him some stress.

"Evidence from his mother said he did not cope well from changes to his routine.

"There were issues with a recent bereavement, financial concerns, a family member's wife moving into the property.

"There was also an issue surrounding an illness with his dog and his car making a funny noise.

Chris Fisher went missing on Thursday, August 9
Chris Fisher went missing on Thursday, August 9

"These all in themselves may be small issues but for this gentleman they would have caused him some concern.

"Given these stress factors he intended to take his own life."

A statement from Mr Fisher's family said: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that helped and was involved in the search for Christopher and everybody that supported us during this traumatic time.

"As this has now concluded we would now appreciate a little privacy to grieve and be able to get on with our lives."

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

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