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Man kills himself after 'bullying' texts

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A machine operator killed himself after he was sent a series of 'bullying' text messages by the son of a married woman he was in a relationship with.

One of the messages Gordon Richards received from Stephen Chilcott days before he died read: "One thing I will promise, we meet, I break u nose, I swear on my kids."

The 60-year-old was found dead by his brother Samuel on January 26 after succumbing to carbon monoxide fumes from his car.

An inquest at Smethwick Coroner's Court heard he had been sent a series of 'disgraceful' messages by his friend Dorothy Bennett's son.

Mr Richards, from Birmingham New Road, Wolverhampton, had met Mrs Bennett while holidaying on the south coast around 18 months before he died.

The pair had struck up the friendship despite Mrs Bennett, from Poole, still being a married woman, and had been on holidays together, but her son did not approve.

After obtaining Mr Richards' number last Christmas when his mother went into hospital following a second stroke, Mr Chilcott started sending the messages.

Another sent to him said: "I think u made the right decision, stay away from Doe, ur not good enough 4 her, ur not what she needs, she will lose all her family no matter how she pleads.

"Do not contact her again ur not worth losing her family over."

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Others went on to call Mr Richards 'a weak little man'.

Under questioning from Black Country senior coroner Robin Balmain, Mr Chilcott said: "I didn't approve because I wanted Gordon to back off and leave my mum, to let her clear her head. She'd had a stroke.

"But she was also a married woman, she was married to George. I might be old fashioned.

"She had too much on her plate, I wanted him to leave off, to clear her head.

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"But at the end of the day she was still married to George."

When asked by Mr Balmain if he had anything to say to the family, Mr Chilcott, from Bournemouth, said: "I'm sorry for what happened."

Despite what Mr Chilcott said, Mrs Bennett explained that her husband knew what was happening as they lived together while he cared for her due to her strokes.

She said: "I think the world of him, that's why we're still together, but that's it really.

"Whatever I did, George knew about."

She said she did not know about the texts until her husband made her aware, and when Mr Richards sent a bunch of flowers to her in hospital, Mr Chilcott 'hit the roof'.

She added: "I said to him leave it alone, I kept telling him and telling him, I told him it's nothing to do with you what I do.

"He just carried on, I kept warning him to leave it alone, he just wouldn't listen to me."

The inquest was told that Mr Richards had struggled with bouts of depression since his wife Christine died in 2011, but that he had been happy again since he met Mrs Bennett.

Before he died Mr Richards left a note which said he was 'fed up' with the abuse, and to 'tell Dorothy it's not her fault, it's her family'.

In his conclusions Mr Balmain slammed Mr Chilcott for his role, saying that although the text messages may not have been the only cause for the death, they were a factor.

"They were arrogant, and they clearly caused Mr Richards a lot of distress, and it seems to me that was a factor in what he did," he said.

"This was a disgraceful manifestation of a disapproval that was no concern of Mr Chilcott's at all."

Mr Balmain recorded that Mr Richards killed himself, with the medical cause of death being carbon monoxide poisoning.

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