Man died in Brighouse shed fire after locking himself in, inquest concludes

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A teacher suffering depression locked himself in his garden shed and set fire to it, an inquest has heard.

Brighouse dad-of-two Tony Garnier took his life after a two-year battle with depression, the hearing at Bradford Coroners Court was told.

The 44-year-old, who was born in France, lived on Woodhouse Lane with his wife of 18 years Francine and their two daughters, and died on September 25 last year after locking himself in his shed and setting fire to it.

The court heard how Tony suffered with depression for two years, triggered by the death of his grandmother and the childhood trauma of his mother’s death.

Tony’s wide Francine, whose statement was read out in court, said the death of Tony’s mother when he was just 15 months old caused some long-lasting trauma to him that was never fully processed in his mind.

Francine also said in her statement that: “Tony was a wonderful and dedicated dad and husband.

“He was a very successful teacher and rose to be head of modern foreign languages at his school.

“He was a kind person with a good sense of humour, who enjoyed cheese, red wine and music.

“We were a normal, happy family. There was no indication he would go on to suffer depression and take his own life.

“But something happened two years ago which had a hugely catastrophic effect on him - his grandmother died. The main connection to his mother had gone.

“Shortly after this his mental health began to decline. He took some time off work before leaving teaching completely, citing stress and his workload.

“He wasn’t the dad and husband we knew. He struggled to work, and couldn’t hold a job down.

“He stopped coping with life, and day-to-day activities became difficult for him, such as opening post, cooking dinner and the school run.

“He became angrier and selfish. Brexit became an obsession with him, watching News 24 all day.

“He felt rejected the yes vote. He stopped socialising and was just tired all the time.

“He developed a violent side - not to me and the children - but he punched a hole in a wall, which was completely out of character.”

Francine said Tony considered suicide in January 2018.

As Tony’s mental health continued to decline, Francine came home in March last year to find Tony sobbing uncontrollably about his mum.

“Tony then began taking anti-depressants but he became more and more difficult to live with,” the statement continued. “He was a totally different person.

“He was no longer the kind, gentle, loving man we knew.”

Francine said that Tony began smoking having quit 16 years ago, which was a sign of his mental strain.

“He stopped attending therapy sessions because he wanted to come off medication,” the statement continued.

“He spent all day watching TV and became non-communicative, behaving strangely and irrationally.”

On September 24, Francine asked Tony to move out, which was the last time she saw him or spoke to him.

Mr Longstaff paid tribute to Francine’s courage in providing such a detailed account of their life together.

The court heard that when Tony left the family home on September 24, he went to Tesco’s in Brighouse and purchased some matches and brioche.

He was then seen by his father-in-law walking towards the outhouse which was used as an office.

At around 8.15am, smoke was seen billowing from it but his family’s attempts to rescue him were thwarted by the door having been locked from the inside.

Emergency services arrived soon afterwards and found Mr Garnier deceased.

In his concluding statement, Coroner Oliver Longstaff said: “This family was torn apart by mental illness

“It is no reflection on Mrs Garnier that she told Tony that she had done what she could but that the marriage was over.

“It doesn’t follow that that is the only reason Mr Garnier did what he did.

“The question was never whether (it would happen), the question was when.

“That happened to be on the morning on September 25.

“There is no question of any suspicious circumstances or third-party involvement attached to this death.

“Mr Garnier took his own life.”