RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
Lonnie George BOOTH
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
(a) The identity of the deceased is Lonnie George BOOTH (“Mr Booth”) who died at a precise time unable to be determined but between 6.00 pm on 19 July 2011 and 9.30 am on 20 July 2011 at 8 Southview Crescent, New Norfolk.
(b) Mr Booth was born on 14 January 1962 and was aged 49 years.
(c) Mr Booth was married, was employed as a process worker but at the time of his death was in receipt of workers compensation payments due to an incapacitating back injury.
(d) Mr Booth died as a result of hanging.
Circumstances Surrounding Death:
Mr Booth had for some time struggled to cope with chronic low back pain which for a period of time had been reasonably controlled by medication. Unfortunately he re-injured his back in April 2010 and from that time his back pain did not settle and he required increased pain medication. He had also undergone facet block injections and had been referred to pain management specialists Drs Oberoi and Jackson to assist with his pain management regime. Mr Booth’s other major difficulty was that in 2007 he suffered an acute coronary syndrome and from that time underwent medical treatment for angina and ischemic heart disease. Apparently his mother had died aged 49 and he was worried as to his own prognosis, having suffered significant heart disease at a relatively young age. As a result of the significant heart disease Mr Booth had had a pacemaker and defibrillator fitted and due to his heart condition he was, from approximately April 2011, certified as unable to return to work and also to drive a motor vehicle. Mr Booth saw his long time general practitioner, Dr Peters, on 6 July at which time he expressed his difficulty with coping with all of these problems and indicated that he felt as though he was slipping back into depression. He had been previously treated for this disease. Dr Peters gave him a script for Effexor. At this consultation Mr Booth expressed that he felt well supported by his wife and that he enjoyed the company of his young son in particular.
Mr Booth saw Dr Peter Sharman on 1 July 2011 in relation to his back injury and at that time he reported that he had become increasingly depressed and that he intended to raise this concern with his general practitioner at the next consultation which obviously occurred on 6 July 2011.
Ms Mandy Booth, the wife of Mr Booth, reported that she had separated from him approximately two weeks prior to his death. She states that this was not the first occasion that this had been done and on other occasions she had returned after a break away. She says that at this time Mr Booth was concerned about losing his driver’s licence and also the possible loss of his employment and means of income. She says that in the period leading up to the separation Mr Booth had become quiet and withdrawn and did not want to leave the house. He had also become aggressive and this had initiated the most recent separation.
Emma Louise Booth (the daughter of Mr Booth from a previous marriage) spent the day prior to his death with her father. She says that she had spent more time than usual with her father after he had separated from his wife as she was “worried about him”. She had spent “quite a bit of time” with him during the week leading up to his death and on the day prior to his death she had spent time with him during the day and dropped him at his home at about 6.00 pm. The arrangement was that she would call again for him at 9.30 am the following morning as arrangements had been made for him to see “some marriage mediation people”. When she arrived that morning she saw that there was a note on the back door to the kitchen. The note read “please don’t come in. Just ring the police. I’m so sorry. I love my kids so much. But I just haven’t the strength anymore.” Police were contacted and Constable Sweetlove entered the house and found Mr Booth hanging in the hallway of the residence by a rope that went through the ceiling hatch, around a roof beam and back down through the hatch and tied to a door handle next to the body.
A police investigation determined that there were no suspicious circumstances and that Mr Booth had taken his own life. The police investigation in this regard identified that in the days immediately prior to his death Mr Booth had visited the homes of a brother and of his father, something that he had not done for a considerable period of time. In retrospect both of these people believe that these visits were in some way a form of farewelling them.
It would appear that the ongoing health difficulties, in particular chronic back pain which had limited Mr Booth’s mobility, coupled with the significant heart problems that had been identified, had caused a significant deterioration in Mr Booth’s mental health. Unfortunately this would also have been exacerbated by the separation from his wife and their young son. Although Mr Booth expressed deep affection for his wife and children in notes he left he tragically could not cope with the issues in his life.
Before concluding, I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Booth.
DATED this 28th day of March 2012 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania