Death of Suffolk police officer in Norfolk confirmed as suicide

An inquest in Norwich has confirmed that a Suffolk police officer found dead in Norfolk earlier this year, did kill himself.

A verdict of 'suicide whilst in a distressed state of mind' was delivered by Norwich coroner William Armstrong in a hearing at Norwich Coroner's Court on Thorpe Road.

The courtroom was packed with family, friends and former colleagues of PC Mike Gard, of Worlingham, near Beccles, who was found by a member of the public near a track on open farmland at Blofield Heath, near Norwich, at around 1pm on April 19.

It was said that the body of the 37-year-old, who was born in Great Yarmouth, was found in shrubbery around 50 yards from the roadside in the Dye's Farm area of Blofield Heath with significant head injuries and a shotgun nearby.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances at the time and the suicide verdict was confirmed at the inquest yesterday.

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The circumstances which led to PC Gard taking his own life were touched on during the hearing, with his partner of nine years, Donna Shrubsall, one of the people to speak.

Miss Shrubsall, who had two children with the former Southwold, Beccles and Halesworth officer - Alfie, 7, and Molly, 3 - confirmed that they had argued that evening about a text message he had received on his mobile phone.

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When asked by Mr Armstrong if she had believed Mr Gard had been having a 'friendship' with somebody else and confronted him about it, she replied: 'Yes.'

When asked how he had reacted to their argument, Miss Shrubsall added: 'He was okay, he just kept saying I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.'

After that he left for his mother's home in Blofield Heath with, as it would later emerge, his licensed shotgun that he used once a year to shoot pheasant.

After spending time watching television with his mother, Joan, Mr Gard received a text message and then went to take a phone call in another room.

His behaviour rapidly changed after taking this phone call and his mother recalled: 'He said 'I've done a stupid thing' and started banging the side of his head.'

It was then that Mr Gard ran away from the house and into the woodland to take his own life using his shotgun, causing 'massive trauma to the head entirely in keeping with a self-induced injury from a shotgun', as stated in a post-mortem report.

In a family statement released at the time of his death it was revealed that Mr Gard had found his father's body around 30 years ago, when he was aged just seven.

The statement described him as a loving family man who lived for his job.

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