‘An amazing, likeable guy who never offended a single soul’ - Coroner rules out suicide for oil rig worker found hanged in Singapore

Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A coroner has ruled out suicide despite a health and safety officer on Shell's oil rigs leaving a note before he was found hanged while working on a 'high pressure job' in Singapore, an inquest heard.

Father-of-four Lawrance Payne, described as 'brilliant and admired', was found dead in his cabin room by colleagues on July 14 last year - the morning after preparing the final presentation on the safety of the SKD Esperanza rig.

Norfolk Coroner's Court heard Mr Payne, from Newton St Faith, was 'a perfectionist', stemming from his days as a parachute packer with the Royal Navy.

After taking a job with oil giant Shell in 2012, a history of anxiety and depression returned and he signed off work for a period in 2014.

His wife Leanne told the court her husband was: 'Quite simply the most brilliant, genuine, well meaning, loving man I have ever known. His wit and humour was ever-present and he had an ability to find common ground with people.'

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She added: 'There are not many liked and admired by almost everyone they meet, but Lawrance was an amazing, likeable guy who never offended a single soul. If I ever made an absolutely 100pc perfect decision it was to choose Lawrance to spend my life with. He had a unique gift to make everyone calm and relaxed in his presence.'

Mrs Payne said her husband had felt due to a mistake at work an entire oil rig would close down, but there was 'no evidence' of the mistake. 'He would talk about not wanting to burden us,' she said.

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'After a matter of weeks he was back to his old self and ready to go back to work.

'In 2016 he was aware Shell was going through a period of unrest and were making redundancies.

'He had a positive attitude for coping with uncertainties. 'I truly believe he was so overwhelmed in his moment of absolute anxiety and depression - that is why it was too painful for him.'

Area coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a narrative verdict, saying she was 'not convinced' Mr Payne fully intended the consequences of his actions.

'He was clearly a loving husband, father and son,' she said. 'There is some evidence he previously found work very stressful. You can never get away from it - being abroad living in a little cabin probably did not help.'

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