Warning: This article deals with suspected suicide and could be distressing.
The estranged wife of a police officer said she flagged his suicide risk for months before he died, but was always told the police would “look after” him.
“I know they were trying to help him, but that went wrong,” she told an inquest into the man’s death on Monday.
The serving police officer died of a suspected suicide in 2018 amid the breakup of his marriage and an investigation into allegations he had assaulted his wife and children, the inquest heard.
His identity along with those of all witnesses is suppressed.
“After [he] moved out, I was very concerned he would commit suicide,” his wife told the inquest hearing.
They were in the process of separating after more than two decades together and had children.
She said she raised his potential suicide risk with his employer several times - through various officers - but no one came back to her.
“I was always told police would look after [him],” she said.
Asked if she thought his employer had acted in bad faith, she said no.
“Oh no, they were just trying to protect him,” she said when questioned by Luke Radich, the lawyer representing the police.
But she described the support from police as “collusive” and “fuelling” for her ex-partner. “It was prejudiced, blinkered, and there’s some learning that could be done here,” she said.
The officer was stood down from work in mid-2018, pending an investigation after he was accused of assaulting his wife and children.
At the time, he emailed his parents to say he was “done”.
“Always know that I love you, and tell my [children] I did love them. It’s weak I know, but I just can’t do it any more. I’m so sorry,” he wrote.
His parents called the police immediately and an officer went to his house, staying for several hours until 2 or 3am to ensure he was safe before leaving.
His wife told the inquest she believed this was a thwarted suicide attempt, but the man’s boss said they saw the email as a cry for help and did not mark him as suicidal in police records after speaking to him.
“He reassured me he was fine and won’t harm himself,” the man’s operational supervisor told the inquest, describing the officer as “embarrassed about the fuss he’d made”.
She recommended that he speak to a psychologist and also informed the police welfare officer.
“I never knew it was a suicide attempt . . . the only advice I had three days prior was that he was cleared for duty,” the senior police leader said.
‘Distressed and crying’
Julie-Ann Kincade, the lawyer assisting Coroner Marcus Elliot, said the officer died in October 2018.
She said he had spent the day with his children and the evening with two friends at a bar.
That night, he was driving home when he crashed into a parked car.
Distressed and crying, he called a friend and told him about the crash before hanging up.
The call worried the friend, who went to his house and, unable to find him, thought he had gone for a walk and left.
A witness saw the crash and called 111, reporting the man’s vehicle registration which identified the man as a serving police officer.
The officer attending to the case knew the man from work, so he decided to wait for another officer to arrive before they went to the man’s house. The delay was about 20 minutes, the inquest heard.
The two officers arrived at the property - after the man’s friend had been and gone - searched the house and found the man outside.
He was pronounced dead by an ambulance officer at 12.30am.
The inquest continues on Tuesday.