Tragedy as heartbroken husband drives car off cliff because he couldn’t live without his wife

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Tragedy as heartbroken husband drives car off cliff because he couldn’t live without his wife

A grieving husband tragically travelled 300 miles to drive his car off a cliff following the death of his wife, an inquest has been told.

Kenneth Muir Scollay, 81, said he did not want to live without his life-long partner following her unexpected death in December 2016.

Former river pilot Ken was in the twilight of his life when he told mental health professions he “no longer wanted to be alone” as the couple had no children and she was all he had.

Ken, who lived in Swanland before his wife’s death, drove to Brighton from his care home in Bridlington for a holiday – but on the last day drove his car off a 530ft-high cliff near Eastbourne.

Hull Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday Ken “took the anniversary of his wife’s death hard”, however, told professionals he did not have any suicidal thoughts ahead of his trip to Brighton.

Beachy Head at Cow Gap, near Eastbourne
Beachy Head at Cow Gap, near Eastbourne

Ken had been put in the care of Humber NHS Foundation Trust mental health teams after failed bids to take his own life in January 2017 and January 2018.

Thomas Smith, a consultant psychiatrist, told the hearing: “We do not believe that Ken needed to be sectioned and detain him as we felt he was engaging with staff well.

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“He was in low mood, but when asked he did not have suicidal thoughts.”

He added: “Ken had thought about suicide for some time following the death of his wife and this was an attempt which on this occasion was successful.”

Ken died of multiple injuries, and severe head injuries, after driving his silver BMW off Beachy Head cliff at around 11.15am on May 3, the inquest was told.

It then took “expert skill and strength” from the Sussex coastguard crews, who spent over five hours rescuing Ken’s body from the wreckage due to the rising tide.

The coroner’s court heard the suicide bid was meticulously planned out and at the hotel he was staying at, told staff to send his letters by post on May 5.

He had also sent a text to care home staff telling them he would take his own life – which caused widespread “upset and shock” among staff and residents.

The hearing was also told that Ken had applied to his care home Pentrich House, in Vernon Road, Bridlington, to take holiday leave from the home – which had been accepted.

It was not unusual for Ken to go on holiday and had successful holiday trips abroad, including a boating holiday and going to Canada, the hearing was told.

Care worker Sarah Chappell told the hearing: “Ken no longer wished to be alone as they did not have any children or other family.”

Get help

Anyone feeling low or suicidal is urged to speak to one of these organisations:

Samaritans

116123

Hull and East Yorkshire Mind

01482 240200

Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

01482 335600

Ken had been spotted by a dog walker going closer to the edge of the cliff but before he could act, the pensioner’s silver BMW had driven off the edge.

PC Andrew Cole said there were no suspicious circumstances involved.

Senior Coroner Professor Paul Marks summed up the evidence and came to a conclusion of suicide.

He added: “There is overwhelming evidence Ken planned what he did and I have no hesitation in saying that he committed suicide.

“My thoughts go on record as saying condolences to his friends and family who are not with us today.”

If you need help

Samaritans (116 123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.

CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information depressionalliance.org

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying studentsagainstdepression.org

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