Innocent company director hanged himself after council’s theft accusation

 

A “very honest and honourable” man killed himself after a council falsely accused him of stealing £115,000 of government funding, an inquest has heard.

David Green founded a community eco-energy company, Ecoisland Partnership, which aimed to make the Isle of Wight one of the first energy self-sufficient regions of the country.

But on 3 October last year, Mr Green was arrested by Hampshire Police after they had received information from the Isle of Wight Council that the money from a £240,000 government grant was unaccounted for.

Four days later after a front-page article had appeared in the local newspaper about his arrest, Mr Green was found hanging from an oak tree in the garden of his home in Gurnard, Cowes.

His widow, Patricia Green, 59, and younger son, Luke, 29, from Plymouth, Devon, wept at the hearing in Newport as it became clear that the allegations made against Mr Green had been unsubstantiated.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Isle of Wight Coroner Caroline Sumeray said to Mr Green's family: “This was cool, calm and rational and very distressing and now horrendous for you to discover that he felt driven to this by the humiliation he felt because he was arrested, because he was interviewed, because of the allegation that was made that was incorrect, false, inaccurate.

“I can't begin to imagine how you are feeling.”

Wiping away tears, Mrs Green said: “It won't bring him back.”

Ms Sumeray added: “I am very sorry to hear the sad tale behind this case.”

Ecoisland was awarded the money in January of last year following a successful bid by the Isle of Wight Council for Department of Energy and Climate Change funding to help householders on the island reduce their energy bills and to aid businesses to become more environmentally friendly.

The inquest heard that Mr Green was named as one of EDF's 11 Team Green Britain Heroes during the Olympics and his home on the Isle of Wight, which he renovated with environmentally-friendly principles, was highly-regarded with up to 50 people visiting each month to view how the work was carried out.

Mrs Green, who worked for her husband, said that he was “devastated” by his arrest and the following report in the local newspaper.

Speaking of his questioning by police, she said: “David described the experience as the most humiliating and degrading in his life.

“He was a very honest and honourable man. He said he had overheard someone talking about 'the prisoner' and I think that hit him hard. Prison got to him.”

Speaking of the report in the newspaper of his arrest on suspicion of fraud, Mrs Green said: “He was devastated, I think it was just the first negative thing that he had, it just threw him.

“He said 'I am not going to be able to walk down the road, I am going to be a pariah'. We (the family) were saying 'it's a small island, people soon forget'.”

Detective Constable Lee Stewart, of Hampshire Police, said that the decision to arrest Mr Green was made after it became known that the Isle of Wight County Press newspaper had received information about the allegation and it was deemed necessary to question him in case an attempt was made to destroy any evidence once the matter was made public.

He said that the false allegations were that Mr Green had falsely stated that stages of the project had been completed in order to gain the next funding payment. But Mr Stewart said that this had been a “misinterpretation” of the spreadsheets provided by Mr Green to the council.

The inquest was told by Mrs Green that Ecoisland had recently gone into administration and they were in the process of selling their house to cover some of the debts.

Mr Stewart said that Mr Green's explanation for the missing money was that the funding had not been ringfenced, and had not been required to be so, and had been used to pay off the company's other debts.

He added of the council's initial allegation: “It wasn't factually incorrect, it was a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation.”

Ecoisland was a community interest company, which were established by the Government in 2005 to enable social enterprises to be established with their profits being used for the public good and the benefit of the community.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before