Gun death man's morbid interests

A NEWHAVEN man died when he shot himself in the head, an inquest heard. But there was not enough evidence to suggest it was suicide, a coroner ruled, and recorded an open verdict.

Phillip Cox, 36, of Orchard Mews, Heighton Road, was found dead by his partner on October 5 last year. A Browning automatic pistol was found nearby.

An inquest at Eastbourne on Tuesday was told that Mr Cox, an electrician, died after a night out with workmates.

All said he was in good spirits after a few drinks, a meal and a visit to Liberty's nightclub. Blood tests revealed he was twice over the legal drink-driving limit at the time of his death.

Mr Cox's partner, Sara Waller, found it hard to believe he had taken his own life. He had been depressed and suffering from a painful skin condition but seemed a lot happier before his death, she said.

When he did not come home she assumed he had stayed at a friend's house. She discovered his body the next morning in their garage.

It was revealed he had a fascination with weapons and owned a crossbow and an air rifle. Ms Waller had seen him with a pistol once, but believed he had got rid of it.

In a statement read out in court from GP Dr Deborah Sharp she said Mr Cox told her he sometimes felt aggressive towards others. She referred him for psychological treatment and he was prescribed anti-depressants.

Consultant psychologist Mark Taylor said Mr Cox had a 'morbid fascination with death and dying' and claimed to keep a collection of knives at home. He had fantasies about hurting other people, but never acted upon them. He admitted drinking half a bottle of vodka per day.

He talked about suicide, but was concerned he would not be killed outright.

Work colleague Michael Norris said Mr Cox was a loner who did not often mix with his workmates. He was nicknamed 'Psycho Phil' because of morbid interests. '

Detective sergeant John Cousin said there was no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved in Mr Cox's death.

Coroner Alan Craze said: 'I am quite satisfied that Mr Cox pulled the trigger that caused his death.'

However, there was not enough evidence to suggest he intended to take his life. 'The evidence falls short for me to see that suicidal intention has been proven,' he added.