HEAD'S WIFE TELLS INQUEST OF THE MOMENT SHE DISCOVERED HER HUSBAND'S BODY

PUBLISHED: 17:07 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:06 02 June 2010

Neil Sears head of Meadowgate School, Wisbech

Neil Sears head of Meadowgate School, Wisbech

DEDICATED headteacher Neil Sears, 52, hanged himself in a school boiler room an inquest heard today. The inquest at Wisbech courthouse heard how Mr Sears of North Brink, died from asphyxiation caused by a ligature. He was found hanging from a heating pip

DEDICATED headteacher Neil Sears, 52, hanged himself in a school boiler room

an inquest heard today.

The inquest at Wisbech courthouse heard how Mr Sears of North Brink, died from asphyxiation caused by a ligature.

He was found hanging from a heating pipe in the boiler room at Meadowgate School on January 20 by assistant head teacher Carolyn Dobson and his wife Karen.

The women had to cut him down using scissors and shears with Mrs Dobson supporting his body as he came down.

Coroner Mr William Morris said: "It is one of the saddest cases I have ever had to deal with. I think there is absolutely no doubt, that he was an excellent headmaster."

He said Mr Sears had taken deliberate steps to end his life and had to conclude that he killed himself.

It was after school finished that Mrs Sears became concerned about the whereabouts of her husband. At 5.10pm she telephoned Mrs Dobson at her home and she returned to school. She arrived to find the school caretaker contacting emergency services after Mrs Sears had seen her husband hanging as she looked through broken slats in the door of the boiler room.

Mr Morris said to Mrs Dobson: "It is right to say that you were involved in cutting the rope so he could be brought down to the floor.

"You supported Neil as he came down and formed the impression from what you could see that sadly he was dead." She agreed.

Mrs Dobson said she had known Mr Sears for about 10 years and said he had appeared normal on the day he died.

At 2pm that afternoon she had been made aware of a fax which had been received regarding a tribunal relating to an application from parents of a pupil requesting their child be moved to another school because his needs were not being met at Meadowgate.

She said when she talked about it to him he did not appear to be distressed or emotional. She said: "As you can imagine that is something I have been thinking about and there wasn't any warning signals in his behaviour."

Mrs Dobson said they agreed to meet the following day to formulate a response form the school.

She said: "I had no further concerns, Neil was his normal self."

Coroner William Morris heard how it was discovered Mr Sears, had written a note on a fax saying "I just give up, sorry".

Mrs Sears said her husband was extremely dedicated to his job and worked between 60-70 hours a week and did not take his full holiday entitlement. She said he had been hoping to semi retire in July and do some supply teaching.

She said they had been organising a holiday for the forthcoming Easter break and were planning a family birthday tea party for the following day. Commenting on the tribunal, she said: "Neil couldn't lie and say his staff was not meeting this child's needs because he thought they were. But he didn't appear to be upset or distressed about it."

It was revealed that a few colleagues knew of a previous incident shortly after Mr Sears became head teacher when he left a note saying he couldn't cope. Mr Sears had walked out of school to Guyhirn but it was decided that it would not be mentioned again.

A statement from Mr Sear's GP said he was not on any regular medication and had visited the surgery for just a few minor ailments.

At the time of his death school governor Sue Brewer paid tribute to Mr Sears and said he was an "inspirational" teacher.

Mr Sears had worked at Meadowgate School for more than 13 years and had been a headmaster for three.

Meadowgate is a community mixed special school maintained by Cambridgeshire County Council.

It offers education to children with either moderate or severe learning difficulties.


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