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Police chief took his own life, coroner rules
A CORONER has ruled that a top Wiltshire police officer took his own life.
Deputy Chief Constable David Ainsworth, a 49-year-old father-of-four was found hanged in the garage of his home at Potterne, near Devizes, in March last year.
The inquest in Trowbridge heard the high flying officer feared his career was over following allegations of sexual harassment against female colleagues at Wiltshire's police headquarters in Devizes.
His partner Jo Howes, a part time charity worker, had told the hearing Mr Ainsworth had felt “abandoned by a police service he had devoted his life to”.
“He felt he had been made into a pariah,” she added.
But returning his verdict this morning, Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley said he was satisfied that all welfare arrangements had been put in place and focused on addressing Mr Ainsworth's needs.
He said there was nothing to indicate to police and health professionals that they knew or ought to have known that there was an immediate risk to his life.
In a statement issued following the verdict, Wiltshire Police Authority Chairman Chris Hoare said: “Our sincere and heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with David’s family, partner Joanna and friends in these tragic circumstances.
“This has been an exceptionally difficult period for all concerned, not only for David’s family, partner and friends, but also for many within our organisation.
“We note that the coroner recognised that we had put in place comprehensive welfare arrangements which focussed on David’s needs.
A good employer has a duty of care to all its employees. They need to feel able to raise concerns - and know they will be dealt with.”
He said 13 members of staff had raised a total of 26 individual allegations which were being investigated by at the time of Mr Ainsworth’s death.
Ms Howes said she has made a number of complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and to the Press Complaints Commission regarding the reporting of allegations made against Mr Ainsworth and will not comment further on the case.
She added: “David was a kind and caring man who always wanted to help people and I loved him very much. He was loved dearly by his family and friends.
“Judging from the sheer volume of heartfelt and heartrending condolence messages that we received from across the police service after his death, I believe a great many of his colleagues felt the same way."