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Father killed himself after racist Wolverhampton son accused

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

The father of a man who posted online footage of himself dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume killed himself after struggling to cope with work pressures and problems with his son's criminal behaviour, an inquest heard.

Christopher Clifft, aged 52, was found hanged at the family home in Willenhall, by his wife Pauline who told the hearing he was a 'worrier' and unhappy at work after bosses cut staffing on his production line.

He had also tried to take his own life the previous day after reading press reports about their son Christopher Philips, formerly known as Darren Clifft. He was jailed last week after appearing in YouTube videos wearing the klansman outfit, and posing with a golly doll at a far-right gathering.

Giving evidence Mrs Clifft said her husband resigned from his job as packer at parts firm Johnson Controls days before his death on April 29 last year, due to health problems."The work scenario was getting him down. He was saying he can't cope with the pressure coming from the supervisors and that they had a target of doing 200 cushions per hour," she added.

Under cross-examination by barrister Mr Darren OKeeffe, representing Johnson Controls, she admitted that Mr Clifft was prescribed medication to aid his mental health, but only took it once because he did not like it. She told him Mr Clifft had left a note saying 'because of Johnson Controls he had taken his life'.

Mr OKeeffe said Mr Clifft was a valued employee and the company had tried to help him by arranging counselling. Bosses had no concerns about the standard of his work.

Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain asked Mrs Clifft: "Did he have other things on his mind?" She replied: "We had trouble with our son. He got arrested mid March. He was bailed and was living with us."

She told the hearing in Walsall that they 'always had problems' with Philips, but were unaware of the full extent of his crimes until a Sunday newspaper reported them. Mrs Clifft said her husband tried to take his own life the same day, but she had stopped him. But she found him hanged the next morning.

Coroner Mr Balmain said the cause of death was suspension by a ligature and concluded that Mr Clifft had killed himself. He said: "He had particular concerns about his son. This may have been playing on his mind."

Philips', previously of Willenhall, was jailed for 12 months after admitting posting three YouTube videos intending to stir racial hatred.

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