A WEYMOUTH firefighter and beach trader found hanged at the town’s old fire station took his own life, a coroner has ruled.
Gary Hayward, who was described by his family as ‘generous and fun to be around’, was found hanged at the redundant Boot Hill station on November 1 last year.
An inquest into the 43-year-old’s death at County Hall in Dorchester was told two Dorset Fire and Rescue Service staff members had discovered the body in the training tower when they carried out routine maintenance.
In a statement PC Nicholas Gravenor, of Dorset Police, stated that he and a colleague had attended the scene and helped Mr Hayward down before other fire officers and an ambulance arrived, but Mr Hayward was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detective Sergeant Steve Broadhurst confirmed that letters were found both at the scene and at Mr Hayward’s Newstead Road home addressed to his family that appeared to be suicide notes.
Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue stated there was no evidence to suggest anyone else had been involved in the death and there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in the deceased’s system.
Mr Hayward’s brother Stephen provided a statement at the inquest, which was read on his behalf by Dorset Coroner Sheriif Payne.
He described how Mr Hayward was born and brought up in Weymouth, and after working in various jobs, had taken over his father’s beach kiosk nine years ago and also joined Dorset Fire and Rescue Service as a retained firefighter in 2005.
Stephen Hayward, who is a full-time firefighter himself, said his brother became a ‘well-respected’ member of the fire service, who was involved with community safety, fundraising and the training of cadets.
He said: “Gary was someone who was always ready to help and support anyone and he never asked for recognition for the assistance he gave.
“He was always generous and great fun to be around.
“He could make old and young people laugh. His love for his family was immense and we are all proud of his achievements.”
Stephen Hayward said that he had seen his brother just two days prior to his death and he appeared to be his normal self.
Mr Payne said that, while it was hard to understand why Mr Hayward had chosen to take his life, the notes he had left meant he had to record a verdict of suicide.
He said: “I sadly have to record a verdict that he has taken his own life, that he has committed suicide.
“Sadly there is no explanation for this and there are occasions where people do commit suicide and there is no logical explanation whatsoever and no warning.”