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Little Plumstead man hanged himself days after police discovered cannabis in his shed, inquest hears

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

A man who complained of hearing voices in his head hanged himself days after police discovered cannabis in his garden, an inquest heard.

David Howell’s body was found by members of Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue on February 17 this year at Blackhill Woods, near Little Plumstead.

The 43-year-old had gone missing shortly after police searched a shed at the back of his property on Norwich Road and discovered cannabis.

An inquest in Norwich on Wednesday heard how Mr Howell had suffered from bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and depression.

He had a history of self harm and had talked with his doctor and other medical staff about taking his own life in the months prior to his death.

He had also complained of hearing voices in his head, which told him to harm himself and others around him.

In a statement, his aunt and uncle, Kathleen and Maurice George, said that Mr Howell had a “troubled” upbringing, but was close to his mother.

They said that her death seven years ago had “affected him hard”.

The inquest heard that Mr Howell was first referred to mental health services in 2015 with symptoms of depression.

Giving evidence, Dr Joan Bufton, consultant psychiatrist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said: “He described his experiences of the voices he was having.

“He knew the experiences were originating from his own mind and he experienced them as talking to him, encouraging him to harm himself.”

Towards the end of 2016, he was seeing a support worker three-times-a-week.

On February 10, police attended his address as part of a welfare check and found cannabis in his shed, which Mr Howell said did not belong to him.

The inquest heard that officers were aware of his mental health condition and decided not to interview him at the time.

He went missing days later and his body was discovered following a search. Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake ruled out suicide, stating that a toxicology test found levels of tramadol and cocaine in his system.

She said: “In light of that, I cannot be clear to the affect the drugs [had] on his mind.” She gave narrative conclusion stating Mr Howell hanged himself.

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