A highly accomplished test pilot tragically took his own life at a Chester hotel after becoming plagued with anxiety over his decision to enter semi-retirement, an inquest has heard.
Peter Collins’ body was found hanged in his room at Holiday Inn on Wrexham Road by a housekeeper on the morning of August 24 last year.
Mr Collins’ colleague raised the alarm when the 62-year-old didn’t show up for a briefing at Hawarden Airport-based Raytheon Systems, where he had worked for more than a decade.
On Thursday (February 16), an inquiry into his death held at Warrington Town Hall was told that Mr Collins – who lived with his wife Gudrun in Bury St Edmuds, Suffolk – repeatedly complained of feeling anxious and underwent a dramatic weight loss in the months leading up to him committing suicide.
He had decided to take semi-retirement the previous year and continued to work on a self-employed basis, but Mrs Collins revealed her husband – who had served with the RAF – struggled to adapt to being self-employed, with its entailing demands and uncertainty.
“I think he was just not coping with the changes,” she said.
“He made a major career change and regretted what he had done.
“It was blown out of proportion. Nobody could understand why he was so stressed about it.”
Just three weeks before he passed away, his daughter found him unresponsive at their home with a suicide note next to him.
He had drunk two bottles of whisky and was rushed to hospital.
Mrs Collins said there was no indication of what was to come when he left their home on August 21, 2016, to travel to Cheshire for work.
She added: “He was going back to work to do a job he loved.
“His death was a total surprise for us.”
Long-time Raytheon colleague Richard Houghton told the inquest that the ‘loud and very full of life’ Mr Collins seemed slightly quieter than usual when he was helping to test aircraft on August 22 and 23 but he was unaware of any particular concerns or worries.
A toxicology report concluded that Mr Collins had consumed the equivalent of a couple of pints of beer or glasses of wine in the hours leading up to his death, while the post-mortem examination found that the cause of death was hanging.
Recording a conclusion of suicide, senior coroner for Cheshire Nicholas Rheinberg said: “Mr Collins was a successful man and had a long career.
“He made a decision to retire and become self-employed but it is clear from the evidence that he regretted that decision.
“I am satisfied that beyond reasonable doubt that there were no suspicious circumstances and that he took his own life.”