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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Inquest concludes former jockey Griffiths took his own life

Simon Griffiths with his partner Elizabeth Grant
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Former jockey and trainer Simon Griffiths hanged himself after struggling with mental illness, an inquest has heard.

A verdict that Griffiths killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed was recorded at a hearing at Scarborough Town Hall by North Yorkshire East coroner Michael Oakley.

The coroner said: "He felt his worth was declining," adding that Griffiths was concerned about his long-term livelihood.

A former lightweight rider, Griffiths, who was 54, served his apprenticeship with David Chapman near Stillington in North Yorkshire and then had a spell working for Tom Tate.

He took out a licence to train a small string near Easingwold in 2003 and sent out a dozen winners before he retired in 2013. He saddled Count Cougar to win five times in 2007.

His partner of 20 years, Elizabeth Grant, said at the inquest on Wednesday: "We had a wonderful relationship."

She added that Griffiths had suffered with pain in his shoulder for three months and from mental instability. When she questioned him, she said, he admitted he also had concerns about his finances.

Questioned by the coroner, she agreed he had been worried about his ability to earn money and had taken two overdoses at his home. He had been detained under the Mental Health Act in hospital after the first instance and had taken a smaller overdose later. As a result he received help from a social worker and a mental crisis team.

On the day he died he had been talking normally but had been "a bit quiet", said Grant. They had no disagreement before she left home for the day. He had been found hanging from a bannister at their home by her daughter.

Despite his concerns, said Grant, Griffiths was due to start work as a seasonal stable manager at York racecourse.

She told the hearing he had not wanted her to contact members of his family.

Medical evidence was given that Griffiths had taken medication which belonged to Grant. "He said he was low and wanted to end his life," said Grant. "He suffered pain when he was riding or walking horses."

Mark Wilson of the Tees Valley NHS Trust said: "He didn't believe he was ill. He was getting back into work and his finances were back on track, and he had stopped taking his medication."

Wilson said that Griffiths had declined help from a mental crisis team.

Recording his verdict, the coroner said that Griffiths had discharged himself from treatment.

"There is not one shred of evidence that his relationship [with Grant] was anything other than good," he said. 

He said he was low and wanted to end his life. He suffered pain when he was riding or walking horses
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