THE owner of a cleaning company told an inquest of the moment he found one of his clients dead in a garage in Robin Hood’s Bay.
Mike Asher, struggled to hold his emotions as he told how he had spoken to Christopher Hoggarth less than half an hour before he found him hanging in the garage of the holiday cottage with a garden hosepipe around his neck.
Mr Asher, who runs Bay Cottage Industries, had cleaned at Lisnacrieve since the beginning of the year and that Mr Hoggarth, who lived in Great Ayton, would regularly be at the house after guests had left.
He called at Lisnacrieve at 9.20am on 29 September and found the garage door open and a red sleeping bag inside. Inside the house he saw Mr Hoggarth’s slippers at the bottom of the stairs and shouted upstairs to him to check the guests had gone.
Although he didn’t see Mr Hoggarth (54) he heard him reply and told him he was going to get Sue, one of his staff and would return.
When he returned at around 9.45am the garage door was closed, the slippers had gone so he carried on cleaning until a friend of Mr Hoggarth’s arrived at the cottage.
They looked for Mr Hoggarth, a director of learning at Teesside University, but found the garage door locked and a sheet over the window. Through a gap at the side of the door Mr Asher could see a hand.
He added: “I said he is in there, it looks like he is laid down sleeping, I opened the door and he is kneeling on the floor facing away from us with a hosepipe around his neck suspended from the beams.”
The pair lifted Mr Hoggarth and dialled 999 and started mouth to mouth until paramedics arrived.
The court also heard his 17 year marriage to wife Jane had become strained due to his issues with alcohol and they last saw each other three weeks prior to his death.
He hadn’t turned up at court for a drink drive appearance and Mrs Hoggarth had seen a solicitor about a divorce.
She said: “He put myself and the children in a very difficult position. He owned the family home and his salary was coming to an end. We were well set up a few years ago but all assets had been drained through his drinking, he spent more and more time away from home.”
They discussed Mr Hoggarth getting his possessions and late one night he rang her in a state while walking the dogs and said ‘I thought I was doing right by you’, before putting the phone down in what was to be their last conversation.
Coroner Michael Oakley ruled: “Things had obviously got much worse as a result of his addiction to alcohol.
That had led quite understandably to the breakdown of his marriage and advice being given, quite understandably, to his wife in relation to what she should do.
“In those circumstances I conclude Mr Hoggarth has killed himself and that will be the verdict of this inquest.”