Chainsaw death was 'carefully thought through suicide'

Martin Halfpenny
Wednesday 19 November 2008 14:21
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A man cut off his own head with a chainsaw in a carefully thought out suicide because he was "irrationally opposed" to leaving his repossessed home, an inquest heard today.

David Phyall, 50, had consumed a small quantity of alcohol but no drugs, and arranged the chainsaw in such a way as to facilitate his suicide.

His elderly parents John and Jean Phyall raised the alarm when they could not contact their son in his ground floor housing association flat in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, on 5 July this year.

Police were called and they broke in asking the parents to stay outside.

Sergeant Mark Carter said he found Mr Phyall in the lounge with blood spattering the walls, floor and a cabinet.

Central Hampshire deputy coroner Simon Burge said to the officer: "It must have been a huge shock to you."

Sgt Carter replied: "In some ways it was sir."

The hearing heard that the block where Mr Phyall had his flat was to be demolished and despite great efforts from his housing association, he had refused 11 offers of alternative accommodation.

Eventually it had gone to court to repossess the property.

At the time of his death Mr Phyall, who had suffered from mental illness and attempted suicide before, was the only person living in the 1960s block with the rest of the properties boarded up.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Burge said First Wessex Housing Group had done all they could to help Mr Phyall but he was "irrationally opposed to moving".

"In the 15 years I have been sitting as a deputy coroner, this is the most bizarre case I can recall," Mr Burge said.

"It is an appalling way to take one's life but that is what happened in this case.

"He thought through how he was going to commit suicide very carefully. He went to a great deal of trouble.

"I think he did it to draw attention to the injustice of his situation."

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