Milton Grange suicide inquest

A 67-year-old man hanged himself in a residential respite centre in Eastbourne, an inquest has heard.

John Arthur James Gander was found in a bathroom at Milton Grange in Milton Road in May this year.

Shocked care workers tried to resuscitate Mr Gander, who had been a resident there for seven weeks, but without success.

An inquest at Eastbourne heard yesterday that Mr Gander had not shown any suicidal tendencies during his stay at the centre, which is run by East Sussex County Council’s Adult Care department and the NHS.

Careworkers Linda Robinson and Tracey Bullows both said Mr Gander, who suffered with bi-polar affected disorder, had eaten cereal and toast for breakfast and was “very bright.

Linda Robinson said, “John had his low days and good days but that morning he was fine.

“He had weetabix and toast for breakfast and was chatting to us. He had his medication and then had an appointment with a senior occupational therapist.”

The care worker said she went to look for Mr Gander at lunchtime and found him dead in the ensuite bathroom of his bedroom.

Detective Sargent Ross Bartlett confirmed this at the inquest and also said Mr Gander had not left a note.

The inquest was also told that on the day he died Mr Gander had been told by senior occupational therapist Ian Skinner that he would be returning to Heathfield Ward at the Eastbourne hospital as he was not well enough to return to his home in Blacksmith Copse in Hailsham.

Senior staff at the home admitted that could have been a trigger for him to take his own life but said he was also worried about his quality of life as he suffered with Parkinson’s Disease which was getting worse, his mental health issues and he had financial problems.

After Mr Gander’s death two separate inquiries were launched to see if lessons could be learnt for the future.

One was a highly critical report by occupational therapy professional lead Wendy Walker who said although there were issues that needed addressing, including the fact Mr Gander’s GP had not told Milton Court his medication had stopped, nothing could have been done to prevent his death.

She blamed an “overwhelmed national health service and busy GPs”.

The inquest heard Mr Gander had been divorced twice and both one his partner’s and his son had hanged themselves in the past.

He had been hospitalised 20 times over the years for depression and other mental health issues both at Hellingly Hospitals and in institutions in Holland, where he has a daughter.

Recording a verdict of suicide while the balance of Mr Gander’s mind was disturbed, East Sussex coroner Alan Craze said he was confident nothing could have been done to prevent Mr Gander taking his own life.

“There is no need for me to be judgemental in this case,” said Mr Craze, “I am simply echoing what is in the findings of the inquiry which was about communication and systems that can be improved upon.

“Nobody, be it family or staff at Milton Grange or the NHS could have predicted what Mr Gander was going to do on that day.”

Milton Grange opened in 2010 after a £1.6million refurbishment of the old Milton Court Resource Centre and offers short-term respite care and day services for people with mental health issues including depression, bi-polar and anxiety disorders.