St Albans mechanical engineer left suicide note for coroner

PUBLISHED: 06:06 28 January 2015

Hatfield Coroner's Court

Hatfield Coroner's Court


A retired chartered mechanical engineer from St Albans who committed suicide left a typed letter addressed to the coroners’ court confirming his intentions, an inquest has heard.

Neighbours and the partner of John Keen, 64, found his body after breaking in through a window at his Highview Gardens home on October 4 last year.

Assistant coroner for Herts Edward Solomons said that John, the eldest of four boys, had suffered from depression intermittingly and had, according to his partner, suffered an episode prior to his death.

John was described to the court at the recent inquest as a perfectionist who could become upset should things go wrong.

Referring to police statements on his death, Mr Solomons said officers were called to John’s address following concern about his safety.

A police constable spoke to his partner of 12 years, Patricia Stroudly, who said she had become worried after being unable to contact John – the couple did not live together and she did not have a key to his home.

Also, John had not met her as planned for a shopping trip.

His body was discovered with a bag over his head on the first floor, against a banister on the landing.

The inquest was told that rigor mortis had set in.

A typed and signed note was found near John’s body, addressed to the coroners’ court, saying it was his intention to end his life.

Medical records from his doctor did not show anything of relevance, and there was no indication of any treatment for depression.

With regard to the possible time of death, a library receipt showed John had returned books two days before his body was found.

A post-mortem performed by Dr Lutfil Wahab did not reveal anything out of the ordinary.

Mr Solomons said the cause of death was asphyxiation and that John had committed suicide as he intended “concluding his life during an episode of untreated depression”.

The inquest was told that John was clever and a “perfectionist who had worked as a mechanical engineer on projects around the world”.

Addressing John’s partner and members of his family present at the inquest, Mr Solomons said their attendance “shows the esteem in which he was held”.

Passing on his condolences, he added that John was “much-loved” by his family.

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A few years back I was fixing a shed in our garden and had enlisted the help of my young son. We were busy moving rotten pieces of wood from the side of the shed when suddenly I felt sharp stabbing pains in my lower legs. Before I had a chance to investigate my son started screaming in pain and it took a few more seconds to realize that we were trampling on a wasps’ nest!

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