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Popular maths teacher found hanging from tree was severely depressed, inquest hears

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An inquest has opened into the death of a popular school teacher from South Lincolnshire.

Hedley Graeme Mutton, known as Graeme, was last seen leaving the Peter Hodgkinson mental health centre in Lincoln on November 24, 2015.

The 41-year-old’s body was found four days later hanging from a tree at the nearby Greetwell Road quarry in Lincoln.

Graeme, from Market Deeping, was a maths teacher at the Thomas Deacon school in Peterborough and had also worked at the Deepings School and in Birmingham.

The former Stamford School pupil had a teenage son and was a talented international sportsman who represented Scotland at hockey and also played football and rugby locally.

An inquest at Lincoln Cathedral Centre was told Graeme suffered from severe depression and was an inpatient at the Peter Hodgkinson Centre.

He was also going through a divorce at the time of his death.

In a statement which he read to the inquest, Graeme’s father, Hedley Alan Mutton, said his son had three sisters and one brother and came from a close family who supported him throughout his illness.

The inquest heard Graeme separated from the mother of his son in 2008 and was first referred to mental health services in that year.

He married a new partner in 2011 but that relationship broke down in 2014.

Mr Mutton said Graeme rose to the rank of deputy head at the Bournville School in Birmingham but lost his job when it became an Academy in 2014.

He returned to Lincolnshire where he lived with his mother, Sheila.

The family became concerned when Graeme was found lying on his bed with a belt around his neck in August 2015, and he was voluntarily admitted to the Peter Hodgkinson Centre where they visited him every day.

Mr Mutton said his son “wept uncontrollably” when his consultant told him she was leaving in October 2015, and a month later the family were told by a locum consultant that there was a new diagnosis of a personality disorder.

They were also told to “stay away” from visiting Graeme as he had become too dependent on them, Mr Mutton told the inquest.

Mr Mutton said Graeme was also worried that he would not be able to stay at his mother’s.

“There was no basis for this at all,” Mr Mutton said. “Graeme was always welcome and accommodated by his family.”

The inquest heard Graeme was allowed two days home leave at his mother’s on November 20 which his father described as “very difficult.”

Mr Mutton said: “He admitted to me he had dark thoughts. I remember Sheila saying he did not have enough medication to stay at home. As we left he ran back in to the house twice to say goodbye to the family.”

The inquest was told Graeme sent a text to his mother on 23 November in which he said there was an 18 month waiting list for therapy.

The next day calls to Graeme from his family were not answered.

Mr Mutton said Sheila received a call at 5.45pm on November 24 and was told Graeme had been missing for two hours.

“We were shocked Graeme was missing and very upset,” Mr Mutton said.

“We were originally told he left at 3.45pm, later that he left the ward at midday, now we know it was much earlier.”

The inquest heard CCTV showed Graeme leaving the ward at 10.18am and the building two minutes later.

Further CCTV at 10.38am showed Graeme buying rope from the nearby Go Outdoors store on Outer Circle Road.

Mr Mutton said although Graeme was not found until November 28 his family believed he took the steps to end his life on November 24 and that there were a number of missed opportunities on that day to prevent it.

They included adequate risk assessments, accurate and recorded time keeping and adequate staffing levels.

“We were shocked to learn Graeme had been allowed unescorted leave from the hospital,” Mr Mutton said.

Mr Mutton added that if it is was found that Graeme’s death was preventable then it might reduce the risk of other families suffering in similar circumstances.

The inquest, which is expected to last five days, continues.

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