Jan 19 2006
Andrew Pain, Evening Gazette

A chilling nursery rhyme suicide note was left by a devoted father who hanged himself after falling into debt with the Child Support Agency.
Peter Phillips, 45, of High Street, Loftus, was found near railway lines in woodland in the town’s Arlington Estate.

An inquest at Teesside Coroner’s Court heard how a work colleague found a note when he went to his address which began: “If you go down to the woods today, you are sure to find me there.”

Alan Garbutt became concerned when Mr Phillips was away from his job as a production worker for two days.

He and another colleague went to his house on July 19 and found the door unlocked.

Inside they found a picture of Mr Phillips and his teenage son Guy alongside the note which went on: “I’ve had enough, can’t take no more.

“Tell Guy I love him but it’s time to go. It’s not easy on your own. I have wanted to do this for years.”

The pair contacted police who later confirmed a man had been found hanging from a tree in the woods the day before.

Mr Garbutt said his friend often spoke of money troubles and once told him he had sent a letter to the CSA threatening suicide if they did not help him out.

Consultant pathologist Dr Campbell Ritchie said Mr Phillips died as a result of respiratory obstruction caused by hanging.

He added that he had the alcoholic equivalent of four and a half pints of beer in his system but that it was not enough to cloud his judgment.

The inquest heard Mr Phillips had taken an overdose before but had no history of mental illness.

Teesside Coroner Michael Sheffield recorded a verdict that Mr Phillips killed himself.

After the inquest his mother Barbara Powell, 71, said her son had moved from Harrogate to Loftus to be near to his son.

She said he spoke of his money troubles often and she had taken out a £3,000 loan to help him.

“He said there was one time he couldn’t afford a carton of milk.

“He owed them a really big amount but they hounded him for the money.”

Mr Phillips was required to pay £54 from his £230 weekly wages to child support.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Our sincere sympathy goes out to the family. The Child Support Agency has a responsibility to ensure both parents support their children financially.”

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