Retired test pilot took his own life at hotel in Chester, inquest told

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Staff reporter (Chester Standard)

A test pilot committed suicide after going into semi-retirement, an inquest heard. 

Peter Collins, 62, hanged himself on August 24, 2016, at the Holiday Inn on Wrexham Road, Chester, after going into a “depressive episode” following his decision to retire from his job. 

Mr Collins, , of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, had decided to retire from working at Raytheon Systems Ltd, based in Hawarden Airport, to become self-employed and spend more time with his family. He had previously been an RAF pilot. 

The inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court heard from Mr Collins’ wife, Gudrun Collins, who said he had become increasingly “anxious” after semi-retiring and regretted the choice he had made. 

She said: “He was anxious, thinking he had made the wrong decision. He was not coping with the changes. 

“He made a major life decision and regretted what he did and was worried about the future.” 

Mrs Collins said they had discussed what would happen if Mr Collins was unable to find work to support his family.

But she said they would have been able to “tighten their belts” as she worked as a health care professional and he was worrying too much. 

She told the inquest she last received a text from her husband on August 23 at 6.15pm.

A GP report read to the inquest from Dr Gemma Atkins said Mr Collins had seen a doctor complaining of sudden weight loss and anxiety. 

He went through a battery of tests before putting him on some anti-anxiety medication.

During this time his daughter found him unresponsive at home with an apparent suicide note and called an ambulance. 

He came around in the ambulance and told the paramedics he had drunk two bottles of whisky. 

The GP report also said Mr Collins had been to the Priory clinic in 2002 after being diagnosed with severe depression and was discharged later that year. 

A colleague of Mr Collins, Richard Haughton, who works at Raytheon Systems, told the inquest Mr Collins was still doing some work for the company after his retirement the year before.

He said he had shown up to work on August 22 and 23 but did not arrive for a 9am meeting on August 24.

Mr Haughton said Mr Collins seemed “normal” except he had lost some weight. 

He said: “He was full of life, a real character. He was good friends with a number of people around the office and as far as I’m aware he didn’t say anything to anyone.”

A post-mortem examination found Mr Collins had a small amount of alcohol in his system and had died from hanging. He had left a suicide note.

The coroner, Nicholas Rheinberg, concluded Mr Collins committed suicide after a “depressive episode”. 

See full story in the Chester Leader

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