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Monday, 01 September 2014

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Carlisle lawyer found hanged after taking on difficult client

A Carlisle lawyer who battled depression for 16 years was found hanged in his garden after he took on a difficult client and was left “crippled with anxiety”, an inquest heard.

Nicholas Richards photo
Nicholas Richards

Nicholas Richards died on August 2, 2011.

A married father-of-three, the 50-year-old worked as a senior litigation specialist and partner at Carlisle’s Cartmell Shepherd law firm.

The first day of his inquest in Cockermouth yesterday heard how his body was found in the garden behind his home in the city’s Etterby area.

In a statement, his GP Dr John Arthur Bone said Mr Richards suffered a particularly long and recurrent depressive illness, first triggered by work-related stress when he had lived in London 16 years before.

“He had stopped working and he and his family moved to Carlisle to make a fresh start,” said the doctor.

In the intervening years Mr Richards had depressive episodes but managed them without intervention until November 2010.

In November 2010, Mr Richards was extremely depressed. Unable to work, he was concerned about his medication and the impact of his illness on his family. While a patient at the Carlisle’s Carleton psychiatric clinic, Mr Richards said he was worried about a legal judgement.

Much of the hearing was taken up by the evidence of the clinical psychologist Douglas Maisey, who worked with Mr Richards from March 2011.

He said the lawyer’s primary problem was “excessive worry”. In a consultation on March 8, he said, Mr Richards’ thoughts were tumbling forwards to possible catastrophic happenings in the future.

“Nicholas was highly distressed,” said Dr Maisey.

Mr Richards was a patient at the clinic’s Hadrian Unit between January 31, 2011 and July 7, with 31 days of overnight home leave.

Dr Maisey said he was discharged into the care of “as many services as it is possible to be involved in”, with monitoring of his risk.

At the point of his discharge, his suicide risk was assessed as medium to high.

In earlier evidence, it was revealed that in June that year Mr Richards had cut his wrist with a circular saw but later felt upset by the worry that he had caused his family.

There was also an incident when he got into a river with his hands tied.

The hearing continues.

Before the hearing, Mr Richards’ family issued a statement through Burnetts law firm, saying Mrs Richards was concerned about “ potential failings” in Cumbria’s mental health provision.

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