Heathfield man intended to take his own life

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A SEVERELY disabled man who grew up in Heathfield intended to take his own life when he drove his motorised wheelchair into a lake near Eastbourne on August 2 last year, an inquest heard.

Stuart Wickison, 23 had been wheelchair-bound for many years.

Coroner Alan Craze heard that although he was severely disabled with Duchenne muscular-dystrophy he was an intelligent man who campaigned for the rights of young disabled people, studied at college and enjoyed music and poetry.

All the witnesses said they believed he intentionally took his own life.

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of suicide and described it as a ‘unique case’.

He said Stuart, who lived with full-time care, was a ‘brave and determined’ man who had stayed in control until the end.

The inquest heard Mr Wickison wanted to remain independent despite his life limiting disability which meant he was unable to dress or feed himself.

He was hoisted into his wheelchair daily and was only able to eat, speak, support his head and operate his wheelchair and computer with the movement he had in his fingers.

A statement from his father Dave Wickison from Swaines Way described his son as ‘an articulate and sensitive man.’

His father said his son was one of only a few people with the condition to live to 23.

He explained Stuart had suffered from a chest infection when he was 20 which nearly claimed his life.

In the days before his death, Stuart arranged to see his family and those close to him. On the day before he took his life, he went for a walk with carer Pam Jackson around Shinewater Pond.

Pam said he was making comments about how deep the water was and she now believes the walk on that day was a ‘recce’.

On August 2 last year, Stuart saw his partner Jamie and Jane from Demelza and drove to the pond in his wheelchair. The cause of death was drowning.