Grieving Longton father 'feared he would lose everything'
TROUBLED Andrew Fowell hanged himself in a barn as his horrified girlfriend looked on.
The father-of-one killed himself over fears his life was falling apart, following a string previous personal setbacks.
His relationship with his girlfriend Susan McNulty was breaking down, and he sent her a long text message as he was preparing to hang himself on May 12.
She arrived at the barn near her Madeley home in time to see him drop from the roof with a noose around his neck.
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North Staffordshire Coroner Ian Smith recorded a verdict of suicide following yesterday's Hartshill inquest into the death.
The inquest heard how the 45-year-old care assistant, of Goddard Street, Longton, had been made redundant on three occasions, and had seen a marriage and several other relationships break down.
In 2001 he took an overdose, and he had been referred for counselling several times.
Andrew's brother, David Fowell, told the inquest that his sibling had appeared happier during his relationship with Miss McNulty.
Mr Fowell said: "When he was with Susan he seemed genuinely all right. Until two weeks prior to his death, it was the most happy I'd seen him for a long time.
"But he was terrified of losing everything, for the fourth time. That is sadly why he decided to do what he did.
"One thing he could never get over was the death of our mother. He was just 16 at the time."
Miss McNulty told the inquest that Andrew had been "bubbly and happy" at the start of their relationship.
But as time went by, she became weary of his constant calling and messaging, and she decided to put the relationship on hold, although they remained on friendly terms.
On May 12 they went for lunch, and Andrew appeared to be untroubled.
Miss McNulty said: "We took the dog for a walk up on the fields and then we went for lunch.
"He was completely normal, he was so calm. He seemed to be back to his normal self."
But just an hour later Miss McNulty received a lengthy text message from Andrew.
He told her he was at the barn, where they had previously been for walks.
While he did not state explicitly what he was going to do, Miss McNulty became concerned, and she ran to see him.
She saw him on a beam in the roof of the barn, with one end of a rope around his neck, and another tied to a post.
Despite her pleas for him to come down, Andrew allowed himself to fall from the beam.
Miss McNulty was already on the phone to the emergency services by this stage, and police and ambulance were soon at the scene.
But there was nothing they could do to save Andrew's life.
Mr Smith said he was certain that the suicide had been premeditated.
Following the inquest, Mr Fowell paid tribute to his brother.
He said: "Andrew was very much loved and a highly popular member of the family. He will be sadly missed by all his friends and family, especially his daughter Terri."