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Student welfare officer was under investigation, inquest told

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake  Picture: Archant

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake Picture: Archant

Archant Norfolk

A student welfare officer took his own life while under police investigation for suspected online offences against children.

Neil Bullett, 44, was found by his wife Tricia in the couple's home in Gorse Road, Norwich, on March 1.

An inquest in King's Lynn heard Mr Bullett was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem examination revealed he died from hanging.

At an inquest on Friday, senior coroner Jacqueline Lake heard Mr Bullett worked as an international student welfare officer at INTO UEA, which prepares international students for life at university.

He was suspended on full pay on September 3, 2018, six days after police seized computers and IT devices from his home.

Mr Bullett had worked at INTO for four years. Simon Duckworth, its head of student services, said he was a "conscientious and valued member of the team, who was liked by the student body".

He said the decision to suspend him on full pay was taken due to the nature of allegations being made, and added: "Neil's death left colleagues shocked and saddened."

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Mr Bullett attempted to take his own life the day after he was suspended from his job, the inquest heard.

He was found on Hunstanton beach by coastguards after taking an overdose and taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.

Mr Bullett was supported by mental health practitioners but was discharged by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation NHS Trust on September 29 when he began feeling better.

Police made fortnightly welfare calls to check on Mr Bullett, which was part of the force's safeguarding children team's standard procedure.

His wife said in a statement: "Had this case been handled more sensitively, in a more timely manner, there could have been a different outcome."

Summing up, Mrs Lake said: "I take into account that Mr Bullett was under a police investigation he clearly found distressing. My conclusion is suicide.

"I am satisfied that the police carried out their investigation sensitively and made welfare calls."

She added she was satisfied that his death was not due to any action or inaction on the part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.

Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.

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