Hanged man's death blamed on doubled maintenance

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A STATELY home's curator killed himself after the Child Support Agency more than doubled his maintenance payments, his family said yesterday.

Police called to Newstead Abbey, near Nottingham, found Graham Clay, 31, hanging from a staircase, surrounded by papers the family said were documents and letters about payments ordered by the government body.

The day before he died, Mr Clay had received a letter from the agency asking for payments to his ex-wife and two children of pounds 252 a month out of pounds 500 income after tax. He had previously agreed on pounds 100 a month with his former wife, Wendy. The couple were married 12 years ago and the divorce was finalised two months ago.

The body was found on Saturday in the entrance hall of the home of Lord Byron, where Mr Clay had been head guide. According to relatives he left a note blaming the agency.

After the pounds 252 assessment in August, he had visited his ex-wife and children and, according to a family friend, had given no indication that he was planning suicide. His former wife had apparently offered to return much of the extra maintenance because she thought the award unfair.

Mr Clay had been renting a room in Mapperley, Nottingham, from his aunt, Josie Clay, 55, who said yesterday: 'He was devastated . . . It left him no money to start the new life he had been longing for or to buy Christmas presents for his children.'

Last week an inquest in Boston, Lincolnshire, heard how Brian Gorton, 42, a draughtsman, hanged himself after a court doubled his maintenance payments to pounds 200 a week when his former wife separated from a second husband.

(Photograph omitted)