A CARE home boss who struggled with the pressures brought on by coronavirus committed suicide, a coroner confirmed.

At a hearing in Denbighshire today, November 26, Vernon Hough’s death was ruled to be a suicide by coroner David Pojur.

The 61-year-old, of Cefn-y-Bedd, was found in his vehicle with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head outside Llay Police Station on May 21 this year.

The hearing was told how Mr Hough was a director at Gwastad Hall Nursing Home in Wrexham along with wife Helen and was hands-on with ‘all manner of maintenance’ at the property.

In a statement provided to the coroner, Helen described her husband as a ‘worrier’ and was “overwhelmed” when the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year.

Reading Mrs Hough’s statement aloud, the coroner explained how the pair found running a care home during the global health crisis placed a ‘far greater strain’ on them than expected with “great emotional stress”.

She added that the dad-of-four was “incredibly concerned” about the spread of the virus and what its impact would be on the care home.

She said her husband’s worries came more from fear of passing the virus on to someone else than actually having the illness himself.

The hearing was also told how Mr Hough struggled to see residents in distress at the care home.

Mrs Hough’s statement added how the care home managed to secure COVID-19 tests in May for staff and residents. Mr Hough was tested and received a negative result.

She believed this would alleviate some of his anxieties but sadly this was not the case.

Of these tests, three staff members and three residents returned as positive despite being asymptomatic. This caused Mr Hough some worries, the coroner said.

Mrs Hough says coronavirus dominated every aspect of running the care home – and eventually suggested the couple take a break to their Spanish villa.

On May 20, the day before his death, Mr Hough’s wife suggested that they ‘get away’ and book flights to Spain. He was not keen on this idea, the coroner said, convinced he would catch the virus.

The following day, Vernon left the house at about 8.20am – which Mrs Hough said was not unusual for him so caused her no reason to suspect what was to happen later.

The coroner said police arrived at the couple’s home later that day - at about 11am - to deliver the news about how Vernon had been discovered.

Forensic nurse practitioner at North Wales Police, Shaun Carruthers, was the one who raised the alarm after discovering Mr Hough’s body in his silver Mitsubishi Shogun.

Mr Carruthers alerted the first officer he saw - police inspector Nicola Collins – where the vehicle was and what he had found.

Providing a statement for the hearing, Insp Collins confirmed details of the incident and how an armed response unit attended to ensure the firearm was retrieved safely.

Mr Pojur said this is a “very sad death” in which the pressure of living and working through the pandemic had "overwhelmed" Mr Hough’s mental health and it “all became too much” on May 21.

He added that running a care home would be difficult in the best of circumstances but acknowledged that during the pandemic that put Mr Hough under much greater stress than he was able to manage.

The coroner determined that Mr Hough had clear intentions when he took his legally owned firearm with him that morning and took that fatal shot.

If you have been affected by the content of this article, help and advice is available:

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