AN ELDERLY Winchester man who died by suicide was “struggling” to look after his terminally ill wife, an inquest heard.

Peter McMaster, 87, was found dead at his Stratton Road home in May. His wife had recently been admitted to hospital with advanced dementia.

A statement from Mr McMaster’s son, also called Peter, said “the burden of looking after mum” became too much for his father.

It added: “I’m not aware of any previous mental health problems. But carers were visiting twice a day, and I think it all became too overwhelming.”

Mr McMaster’s body was found by his friend and neighbour, Geoffrey Fairris, in a black Nissan Micra in the garage. He had inhaled a fatal amount of carbon monoxide.

A statement from Mr Fairris said: “My wife got a call from another neighbour who had heard that Peter’s family could not get in contact with him. I went into the house, which was tidy, and there was no sign of him.

“When I opened the side door to the garage, I could see the family car. The engine was not turned on. Peter was slumped forward in the front.”

Handwritten signs warning of carbon monoxide were taped to the rear windows of the car. Mr Fairris called the emergency services and PC Paul Headen, who is based in Winchester, attended the scene.

PC Headen told Winchester Coroner’s Court: “When I opened the car door, there were strong fumes. There were no notes left, but all of Mr McMaster’s financial information, along with the details of his and his wife’s wills were left out in organised folders.

“The fire service made the vehicle safe and we helped the body out of the car.

“Mr McMaster had last been seen by his daughter around five days before. I had been informed that she was on her way down from London.

“It was difficult to tell her what had happened when she arrived.”

Senior coroner Grahame Short concluded death by suicide. He said: “Mr McMaster was struggling with his wife’s care. He made careful preparations, sorting out his financial papers and details of the will and leaving them out.

“He deliberately inhaled the fumes. This was unfortunately a planned act.”

The Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

The phone number, which is free to call from the UK, is 116 123.

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