A coronial inquiry into the death of a Christchurch man says he killed himself after receiving gang threats over an unpaid debt.

Kerry Juan O'Donnell died on April 25, 2017 at his home in Selwyn. Emergency services had arrived shortly after associates found him but were unable to revive him.

The 44-year-old was a welder by trade, working for a scaffolding company. Until around three years before his death he had been in the Rebels Motorcycle club.

He had two children from a prior relationship - Zoe, who was 24 at the time, and Brooke, then aged 22.


O'Donnell had been with his former wife Constance King for 10 years before they broke up late in 2016.

In the coroners inquiry it stated O'Donnell had struggled to cope following the breakup - though the pair did remain in touch.

King told police her former husband had made two suicide attempts since the relationship breakdown.

O'Donnell's text messages reviewed from the week leading up to his death were largely positive, relating to his contact with friends and women he appeared to have met online.

However, texts O'Donnell sent to his former wife on the afternoon of April 22 relayed that he had been kicked out of his workshop because of his dog. He called himself a "rock bottom loser" following the incident.

The tone of his messages picked up after this and observations from one of his colleagues from April 24 were that he "seemed happy" and was "in a good mood".

However, things took a downward turn later that afternoon when an unknown party texted O'Donnell, telling him a Head Hunters gang member had been around looking for him.

Text receipts suggested O'Donnell met with his former wife at an Oxford address following the texts.

On this occasion King said he appeared "visibly upset". He told her he still loved her and that he had until 10pm to come up with some money "or the Head Hunters would get [him]".

Things escalated after the two parted - he texted King shortly after saying he had no one to lend him the $1000 he needed.

A string of messages O'Donnell sent to King leading up to his death said he had no one to help him and detailed his plan to commit suicide.

The next morning around 10am he sent a series of "goodbye" texts to his family. Soon after he told his former wife where he was, but by the time King arrived with two others, he had died.

An inquiry into O'Donnell's medical state found he had gone through a depressive stage but in his doctor's words, "seemed to be moving on with his life".

Two suicide attempts near the end of 2016 were recorded and it was recommended he undertake psychotherapy - however these appointments were not kept.

Coroner Robinson said O'Donnell felt he was out of options. The dominating factor appeared to be his fear of reprisals at the hands of gang members, he said.

Robinson advised anyone who was aware of another person having suicidal thoughts should call emergency services as soon as possible.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

• Youthline: 0800 376 633

• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm)

• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.