Lover 'found lottery winner's body'

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The Independent Online

A lottery winner who hanged himself in his home was found by a live-in lover his family had no idea existed, an inquest heard today.

Richard Lang died at his house in Broughton Astley, Leicestershire on May 18.

The 31-year-old had won £867,454 on the lottery in 2005.

Today an inquest at Leicester Town Hall heard he was found by Joshua Jones, who told police he was in a relationship with the British Waterways worker.

But the inquest heard Mr Lang's family had no idea of Mr Jones's existence, let alone the fact he was living at the house.

Coroner Martin Gotheridge told the court it seemed Mr Lang had a "number of lives".

Mr Jones, from Wrexham, was not at the inquest today, but two statements were read to the court by the coroner.

He said on May 17 Mr Lang, who carried on working as a British Waterways engineer despite his lottery win, came back from work as usual at 4.30pm.

"He went into the dining room and sorted out some paperwork, I thought that was unusual as he could do that at any time and it wasn't what he usually did in the evenings," his statement said.

He said the couple ate dinner, watched a film then went to bed at about 11pm.

The coroner said: "He then says that they slept together and Lang would often say that sex was pointless and everything was pointless as nothing made him excited or interested."

The following morning Mr Lang got up at 7.40am as normal - the inquest heard he was usually picked up by a colleague at 8am.

Mr Jones's statement said: "I usually heard the TV come on as Lang usually watches the news as he eats his breakfast.

"I heard something else on the TV, it was much louder than usual.

"I was half asleep and I heard some noises on the stairs which I assumed was Lang getting ready for work."

But he said when he heard the van arrive, he noticed Mr Lang did not leave the house as normal.

"After approximately five minutes I thought it was strange that the van was still out on the driveway so I went downstairs... where I realised Lang was hanging."

Mr Jones said he called his mother, because he panicked. She advised him to call an ambulance, and called one herself as well.

He said he managed to get Mr Lang down and tried to resuscitate him with instructions from the ambulance service, until an ambulance arrived.

The inquest heard a post mortem examination gave the cause of death as hanging, and no other illnesses were found that may have contributed to Mr Lang's death.

Toxicology tests also showed no drugs or alcohol were in his system at the time of death.

Acting Detective Constable Jessica Card, who investigated the death, said police had interviewed Mr Jones.

She said: "He stated that they had met on a website where people just chat with each other, I took it to mean it was a social networking site."

She said the couple had communicated regularly, then met up because Mr Jones was having problems at home.

The inquest heard he started staying over, and it developed from there.

"He said that they had had a sexual relationship but it had not really gone on to what I would consider to be a conventional relationship," she told the inquest.

"He didn't meet the family, he didn't meet the friends, it was purely sort of companionship."

The court heard no suicide note was found from Mr Lang, and no clues to suggest why he did what he did.

Dc Card said Mr Lang's colleague arrived every morning at 8am to collect him, waiting in the van on the driveway.

She said the timing of the hanging, with just a 20-minute window between when the lottery winner got up and when his workmate arrived, had raised some concerns it was a "cry for help".

Mr Lang's mother, Yvonne Greenwood, described her son as "well-loved, quietish, not outgoing".

She told the inquest he loved helping people and enjoyed spending time with friends.

Just three days before his death he had spent time at her house in Mountsorrel, Leicester, going to a stag party in Loughborough with his brother on May 15, then staying with her.

The next day he left after dinner, saying he would see her the following week, she told the court.

When asked if they knew anything about Joshua Jones, she told the inquest: "We had never heard of him."

Mr Gotheridge said it appeared Mr Lang had put the vacuum cleaner cord round his neck then put it over the bannister.

"The timing of the events were somewhat unusual in that there was only 20 minutes between Richard getting out of bed and the time that his friend or colleague arrived at 8am to collect him from the house, and he would go out to the van.

"Joshua Jones describes the TV being on a different station to the news station which Richard normally watched with his breakfast and of course one has to wonder, though it is pure speculation, whether that was in any way intended to drown out any other noise."

The coroner said Mr Lang had not left any note or indicated to his family that he had any worries or suicidal thoughts.

"But I have been told that Richard was essentially a private man, was not particularly outgoing and it is clear from what I have heard today that he had a number of aspects of his life, or you could even say a number of lives which were quite separate from each other.

"He still had his relationship with his family and was on good terms with them, he had his work which he loved and continued doing notwithstanding the money he had come by on his lottery win, and he had his social circle of friends.

"And what must be even more disturbing for his family, there was apparently this relationship with Joshua Jones of which they had no prior knowledge."

He said although it seemed Mr Lang had committed suicide, he did not have enough evidence to be sure what was in his mind at the time he died, so recorded an open verdict.

In a statement released after the inquest, Mr Lang's family said his death had left them "devastated and in complete shock".

They said: "He was kind-hearted, generous and quietly confident and will be missed by his many friends, neighbours and British Waterways work colleagues.

"He was fit and healthy, enjoyed his job immensely and loved life itself.

"Richard had so many plans and was particularly looking forward to a Mediterranean cruise just before his tragic death.

"He always had lots of time for his family and we enjoyed his company most weekends.

"His loss has left us distraught and the last few months have been unbearable."