Police chief killed himself over ‘paranoia’ during coronavirus quarantine
A former top police chief who became "paranoid" about coronavirus took his own life after getting a fever, an inquest heard.
Retired Assistant Chief Constable James Connelly-Webster, 58, had been keeping socially-distanced from wife and two children when his body was found in their garden chalet on April 1.
The ex-Devon and Cornwall Police chief's widow Maureen told the inquest in Truro, Cornwall, he became "paranoid and neurotic" over his eight-day quarantine where he kept in touch via Zoom calls.
She said they had agreed to do it if either developed Covid-19 symptoms but he "changed completely" during his isolation.
He left a six-page note found at his bedside revealing how much he struggled in the last days of his life in Crackington Haven, Cornwall.
Maureen found a sign pinned to the chalet door saying "don't come in, phone the police" before paramedics declared him dead at the scene that morning.
She said: "I believe that Jimbo, in his right mind, would not take his own life.
"He had spoken so much over the years, given his experiences as a copper, about the devastation left behind when someone commits suicide.
"It's just unthinkable that this would be his intention – however, there is no denying the fact.
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"I think it was a perfect storm. The psychological effect of the Covid-19 environment – media, fear, lack of control – as he went into his self-isolation, and possibly the neurological effect of Covid-19 found in a small sample of Covid-19 deaths."
After retiring in 2011 Mr Connelly-Webster joined the board of the NHS and worked with the Foreign Office around the world and had recently returned home from London.
Senior coroner Andrew Cox said Mr Connelly-Webster had taken his own life following eight days of self-isolation.
He noted police reports which had confirmed Jim had become "increasingly unstable and paranoid" before leaving a long and detailed letter for his wife, locking the chalet door and posting a message for her not to enter.
He gave the cause of death as asphyxiation and recorded a verdict of suicide.
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