Suicide verdict on man who set himself on fire

Reporter:

Helen Davies

A CORONER has returned a verdict of suicide on a man who set himself on fire near a busy main road.

John Leslie Rippon, 45, died a month after the fire near Holt Road in Wrexham.

Acting North East Wales coroner John Gittins returned the verdict  at an inquest in Wrexham yesterday.

The hearing was told Mr Rippon, of Burnham Gardens, had been depressed after the breakdown of a relationship and had moved back home to live with his mother and brother.

His brother, Iain Rippon, said: “His mood changed because he liked having a laugh and a joke before. He changed and you could tell he’d drastically changed.”

About two weeks before the incident brother Iain found Mr Rippon in his bedroom with pills.

“I got rid of them and took him to the doctor,” said Iain.

“The doctor gave him tablets for two weeks and in those two weeks he did what he did.”

The inquest heard that on the day of the fire, February 28, Mr Rippon, who had learning difficulties and epilepsy, had been seen by his sister walking down the road where they both lived.

The coroner heard a statement from Elizabeth Rose Williams, from Oswestry, who was driving along the road when she saw Mr Rippon.

“He was wearing one black boot and two socks but otherwise was completely naked,” she said. “I put a blanket around him and got him into the car.”

The police were called and Miss Williams drove him to Wrexham Maelor Hospital, from where he was transferred to the specialist burns unit at Whiston Hospital in Liverpool. There he developed infections because of the severity of his burns and continued to deteriorate until he died on April 2.

Iain Rippon said the family felt his brother, the youngest of seven siblings, had planned his death.

“I think he had his mind set on it,” he said. “Even the week before he had been down.

“He seemed to be OK until the last few months.”

A former pupil at Hafod Y Wern School and St David’s High School, Wrexham, Mr Rippon had never worked because of his learning difficulties but enjoyed electronics.

His relationship with his girlfriend ended in September last year and he had then become depressed and had self-harmed.

Iain Rippon said his brother had only become depressed towards the end of his life.

An investigation by Kevin Brain, investigating officer for the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, found the fire had been started deliberately by John Rippon.

A post-mortem examination revealed he had died of bronchopneumonia as a result of the burns.

Recording a verdict of suicide Mr Gittins said: “There is no doubt he intended to harm himself. Given what you’ve told me so candidly we must also be clear he wanted to bring his life to an end. He had been struggling with depression. Despite extensive love and support from his family it was simply too much for him."

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