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Lottery loser killed himself for just pounds 27

Ian Mackinnon
Thursday 15 June 1995 23:02 BST


A man killed himself for pounds 27 after he mistakenly believed he and a friend had lost out on a pounds 2.7m National Lottery jackpot because he had forgotten to renew their ticket, an inquest was told yesterday.

Tim O'Brien, 51, a father of two, shot himself in the head in despair, Liverpool Coroner's Court was told. But it emerged that the tool-room servicer, married for 26 years, had made a tragic error and had only four of the six winning numbers.

Returning a verdict of suicide, the Merseyside coroner, Roy Barter, questioned the need for large jackpot payouts such as last week's pounds 22m and said they could be the source of future social problems.

The court was told that Mr O'Brien and a work colleague had decided to do one box each week on the lottery at a cost of 50p each, agreeing to divide any winnings.

They used the same numbers every time: 14, 24, 33, 38, 42 and 47. Somehow, Mr O'Brien believed that he had got all six numbers when he checked the ticket on Sunday, 9 April. In fact, he did not have 17 or 22.

However, he also realised he had forgotten to renew their ticket when it had expired the previous week. His wife, Maureen, told the inquest: "He was very distressed."

After trying but failing to contact his friend to explain his apparent error, he went into the attic where he also kept a revolver as a licensed member of a gun club.

Mrs O'Brien said she later went up to the attic and found her husband slumped in a pool of blood. A post-mortem examination found that he died from a single gunshot wound to the head above his right ear.

Mr Barter said: "All that four winning numbers brought in that Saturday in April was pounds 54. Tim O'Brien lost his life for the sake of pounds 27."

He warned that the lottery could become an addiction. "I wonder if it's the sheer size of the sums of money involved that could be a source of what could become a serious social problem," he said.

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