Father of seven killed himself in Crackley Woods

Anxiety over family debt and a history of depression led a Kenilworth father of seven to kill himself in Crackley Woods, an inquest heard last week.

Paul Shanks, of Birches Wood, Crackley Lane, died from loss of blood after he cut his wrist on September 15 last year, a coroner decided on Friday.

His wife Victoria said the quiet and private 51-year-old said he was going to take his own life so often that she no longer took the threat seriously.

He left a lengthy suicide note in his parked car and phoned police to say what he was planning to do before cutting himself and heading into Crackley Woods.

Mr Shanks then collapsed into a pond where he was eventually found.

A police officer with a sniffer dog followed a trail of blood and, despite attempts by police and ambulance crew to resuscitate him, Mr Shanks was declared dead at the scene.

A statement by his wife was read out at the inquest at Leamington town hall on February 22. It read: ”Paul was very difficult to live with. He would go into deep depressive moods, from being very happy to being very low. There was never anything in between.”

She also said her husband had a phobia about being with people and had recently started drinking and smoking. The couple’s indoor games company business had not been doing well and they had decided to sell their house.

The alarm was raised after Mr Shanks failed to turn up at an appointment in Coventry in the morning.

At around midday Pc Dave Hilton found Mr Shanks’s body in a pond in the wood and lifted him out with the help of another officer.

Mr Shanks had used a serrated kitchen knife, found in grass at the water’s edge, to make a deep cut to his left wrist and a cut to his neck. A post mortem revealed he had died from loss of blood.

Mr and Mrs Shanks had seven children despite being told by doctors that they were infertile and gave them double-barrelled, alphabetically-ordered names. Mr Shanks’ death leaves Jamie-Jodie, Kacie-Kimie, Lorie-Lanie, Mirie-Marie, Nikita-Nina, Osborn-Oran and Pippa-Peita.

Coroner Michael Coker said: “Cases like this are sometimes a cry for help and not an intention to take one’s own life, particularly when people phone the police themselves. But he went into the wood so he couldn’t be found. I conclude that he made the decision to take his own life

He added to Mrs Shanks: “I express my deep sympathy to you in the loss of your husband and in these circumstances which must have been very difficult.”