Inquest: Former Gulf War lance corporal takes own life day after taking son to start University

Hatfield Coroner's Court

Hatfield Coroner's Court - Credit: Archant

Stephen Carter, 52, of Laburnum Grove, St Albans, was found by police on September 17 last year after hanging himself in his garden shed.

Both his wife, Penelope, and his parents said Mr Carter became isolated and disconnected from his family after returning from the Gulf War, where he had also worked as a combat medical technician.

He was also more aggressive and did not wish to seek help for regular nightmares.

Mr Carter was treated for suicidal thoughts in 2004 after saying he had been treated ‘unjustly’ in his job with the prison service - he worked at the Mount Prison in Bovingdon..

The risk of suicide diminished after Mr Carter was reinstated in his job.

While working at the Mount Prison, Mr Carter met Hitesh Dodhia, and the two remained in contact after moving on to different prisons.

Last year, Mr Carter told Mr Dodhia his wife had asked for a divorce.

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Mr Dodhia met with his friend on September 13 when Mr Carter said he had not eaten or drunk for 10 days and had been sleeping his car.

He was upset and declared himself to be a ‘nasty’ person.

Three days later on September 16, the same day the father-of-two had helped move his son down to university in Plymouth, he messaged Mr Dodhia saying: “Thank you for your support, but we do not need further contact.”

That night Mrs Carter returned home at around 7pm and saw her husband in the garden shed as normal. He was still there when she went to bed at 9pm.

After waking up around 5.45am to find her husband had still not come in, Mrs Carter phoned the emergency services and police officers found Mr Carter dead shortly after arriving.

Texts from Mr Carter’s mobile phone revealed he had messaged his wife at 5.05pm on September 16 and said: “I’m so sorry for everything I did. I cannot live without you. I love you with all my heart.”

Mr Carter worked as a traffic officer for the Highways Agency in South Mimms at the time of his death.

Herts Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan recorded a verdict of death by asphyxiation.

He said: “I am satisfied Mr Carter hanged himself to bring about an end to his life and had intention to do so.”