75-year-old Hanley man took own life after his arrest in sex abuse inquiry
A 75-YEAR-OLD killed himself weeks after being arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
Police arrested and bailed John Barnes in May after a woman complained she had been sexually assaulted by the pensioner.
But the retired graphic designer gassed himself to death within a month of his arrest.
An inquest heard yesterday that Mr Barnes, of Southampton Street, Hanley, feared going to prison.
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Widow Sheena Barnes was told about her husband's arrest in the weeks before his death.
Mrs Barnes, who had separated from her husband in 2010, told the inquest: "Although we had split up we stayed in contact and would speak at least once a week.
"He was very depressed and frightened about the allegation.
"I knew that he had already tried to take his own life so I encouraged him to get extra support."
The inquest heard Mrs Barnes had gone to speak to her estranged husband about the support group when she found a note telling her to call the police.
She found her husband unconscious on the kitchen floor. A post-mortem examination found he had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Mrs Barnes added: "I arrived at his flat and nothing seemed amiss at first.
"Then I noticed a note had been pinned on the door telling me not to come in and to phone the police.
"It also asked me to get his neighbour for help.
"He was lying on his back and there was a strong smell of burnt charcoal."
Police found a separate suicide note in Mr Barnes's kitchen.
The inquest heard Mr Barnes had killed himself on June 19 following his arrest on May 20.
Detective Constable Mark Burslem, who confirmed Mr Barnes had been bailed, said: "At the time of his death the case was still being investigated.
"After the arrest he had contacted the police of his own accord saying he wanted to be re-interviewed.
"He had prepared a statement which he read out where he admitted to his actions."
North Staffordshire's assistant deputy coroner Margaret Jones recorded a suicide verdict.
She said: "I have heard some very frank evidence from his wife that tells me Mr Barnes was being investigated by the police for potential criminal behaviour.
"This was clearly playing on his mind and there had been previous attempts to take his own life."