Man killed himself after Cowdray Park dismissal, inquest hears

James Deacon, 54, was found dead at his home in Easebourne on November 18, 2017James Deacon, 54, was found dead at his home in Easebourne on November 18, 2017
James Deacon, 54, was found dead at his home in Easebourne on November 18, 2017

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A man took his own life with a shotgun after being sacked as estates manager at Cowdray Park, an inquest heard.

James Deacon, 54, was found dead at his home in Easebourne Lane, Easebourne, which is part of the estate, on the morning of November 18, 2017.

In a statement read out at Crawley Coroner’s Court today, March 20, senior coroner’s officer Jemma Gaule said: “On Friday, 17 November, 2017, James was called to a meeting with the chief executive of the Cowdray Park Estate.

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“He was informed that they had discovered that he had lied on his CV, when applying for his job, and was told they were going to terminate his employment with immediate effect and seek to repossess the property he was living in.

“Following this meeting he was escorted home by security staff.”

The court heard that Mr Deacon had two girlfriends, one in Yorkshire where he was originally from, and one in Sussex.

The night of his dismissal he went to a local pub he frequented with his Sussex girlfriend, who found him ‘quiet but nothing to cause her concern’, the inquest heard.

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They parted company at around 7.45pm and were due to meet up later that evening for dinner, but he messaged her to say he had suffered a coughing fit and was also having difficulty trying to purchase a vehicle.

Mrs Gaule said: “That evening he emailed his son at 10.30pm stating his intentions to take his own life.

“This message was not seen until the next morning.

“The son immediately contacted his mother, who contacted Sussex Police reporting concern for James’s welfare.”

At around 10.30am, police arrived at Mr Deacon’s house.

Mrs Gaule said: “The door was locked from the inside and police had to force entry, where they found a gun case on the kitchen counter and a hand written note signed by James.

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“The door to the front lounge of the property was also locked. Police forced the door and found James clearly deceased on the floor.

“He appeared to have shot himself with a 20 bore over and under shotgun that was still present at the scene.”

The inquest heard that Mr Deacon’s Sussex girlfriend hand lent him the weapon and ammunition after he had falsely told her he held a gun license.

As well as sending a suicide note via email to his teenage son, he also sent an email to his Yorkshire girlfriend on the evening of his death.

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Assistant coroner Dr David Skipp said: “In view of the evidence, I will record a verdict that Mr James Deacon took his own life. Condolences to the family, particularly his son.”

Mr Deacon had been employed by Cowdray since June 2017 and had also been the managing director of former managing director of the company that run the Hull City’s KCOM Stadium.

In a statement shortly after his death, Cowdray’s chief executive expressed shock and sadness at the news:

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