Holme businessman killed himself after being ousted from family firm

PUBLISHED: 14:00 05 April 2012

Coroner's Court

Coroner's Court

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A RESPECTED businessman from Holme killed himself after being ousted from his family’s vehicle recovery firm.

A RESPECTED businessman from Holme killed himself after being ousted from his family’s vehicle recovery firm.

Francis Ratcliffe, known as Bill, died on January 12 this year, 18 months after being tricked into retiring from Frank Ratcliffe and Son by his younger brother, an inquest as heard.

He was found hanging by his wife, Sue, in the garage of their home in St Giles Close. An hour earlier, he had kissed Mrs Ratcliffe goodbye and told her he was going to work.

Paramedics called to the scene were able to find a pulse and took Mr Ratcliffe to Peterborough City Hospital, but he died two hours later.

Coroner David Morris, sitting at Huntingdon Law Courts yesterday (Tuesday), read evidence from Mr Ratcliffe’s GP and a consultant psychiatrist who both said Mr Ratcliffe had suffered “suicidal ideations” after his forced retirement in 2010.

He was prescribed anti-depressants but rejected further treatment from the mental health services, fearing that his driving license would be taken from him.

Mr Morris read a statement from Mrs Ratcliffe, who said her husband had worked for the family firm since he was 16 – ploughing his share of the profits back into the business.

She said her husband, who was 55 when he died, was “completely devastated at being forced out” and viewed the move as a “complete betrayal by his brother and aunt”.

Mr Morris heard that Mr Ratcliffe was also made to sign a covenant that he would not work in a similar industry within a 35-mile radius of the firm.

Mrs Ratcliffe added: “If he had been able to retire in his own time and in his own way, a right he had earned, he would still be alive today.”

Mr Morris recorded a narrative verdict that Mr Ratcliffe took his own life whilst suffering from persistent depression after having been ousted from his family business in which he been engaged throughout his working life.

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