Tragedy of St Albans businessman who succumbed to depression

PUBLISHED: 13:02 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

SEVERE depression led to the death of a father of three who hung himself at home after writing a five-page suicide letter to his family. Anthony Pendlebury, 60, of Hillside Road, St Albans, was found with a rope tied around a metal ladder and attached to

SEVERE depression led to the death of a father of three who hung himself at home after writing a five-page suicide letter to his family.

Anthony Pendlebury, 60, of Hillside Road, St Albans, was found with a rope tied around a metal ladder and attached to a roof beam.

An inquest into the former patent lawyer's death last week heard that his body was discovered just after 5pm on December 3 by his wife Sarah - known as Sally. An ambulance was called but no signs of life were found and the paramedic's report indicated Mr Pendlebury had been dead for some time.

Earlier that day he had spoken to a friend, his daughter and his brother to whom he had given no indication of his intention.

But his son Edward picked up an email from his father later that day asking forgiveness for what he was about to do. He notified his mother who immediately rushed home where she discovered his body.

The inquest heard a moving account of Mr Pendlebury's descent into mental illness from his wife prompted by questions from Coroner Edward Thomas.

She said her husband had suffered from an episode of depression when he was 23 but lived a normal life up until he suffered recurrent episodes of depression in the 90s.

Going from the type of man who would leap out of bed in the mornings full of the day's plans with a job he loved and numerous intellectual and sporting interests, he suffered more frequent bouts of depressive illness which debilitated him to the point where he lost his job.

She added that he took little or no pleasure from any of his hobbies or pursuits and simply found them a useful way to pass time in company. From having been an extremely motivated man he lost interest in his house and garden and could not summon enough energy to do anything much but pace about his garden in a state of restless anxiety.

He had been treated as an inpatient in private clinics but latterly had been funded by the NHS in the Maudsley Hospital in South London where he was treated for six months before being discharged in October 2007..

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Anthony Cleare at the Maudsley said Mr Pendlebury suffered from a very treatment-resistant bipolar disorder which meant he achieved some improvement then reached a plateau.

Clinicians formed the view he should be discharged before he built up more of a dependency on being a patient and might become institutionalised, he added..

Mr Pendlebury's consultant psychiatrist Dr Frances Burnett based in St Albans had treated him since September 2005.

She said she felt she had exhausted the range of treatments she could offer Mr Pendlebury which was why she had referred him to the Maudsley.

But when the top specialists in the country had been unable to significantly improve his condition she felt he had been disappointed and could not bear the pain he felt his illness was causing his family.

Despite drawing up a new care plan designed to try new therapies to help Mr Pendlebury, a clearly distressed Dr Burnett said she and her team had been unable to prevent his death.

Giving cause of death acute asphyxia, Mr Thomas said Mr Pendlebury had taken his own life while suffering from a depressive mood disorder.

He said: "Mr Pendlebury was a highly skilled, intelligent man who felt unable to function as he wanted to function due to his illness.

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I had been wondering if she would be there. I had encountered what looked like the remains of her feasting along the path. The telltale circle of piled feathers that indicated a pigeon devoured, plucked breast up, the carcass taken for final pickings by its captor.

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