A RETIRED Hampshire doctor took his own life after he was interviewed by police over a historical allegation.

Dr Peter Betts, 76, suffered serious anxiety after being told about the case and died before police could tell him they were taking no further action.

The nature of the allegation was not revealed during his inquest in Winchester.

The coroner's court heard that Dr Betts' mental health "deteriorated rapidly" after being interviewed in September. He was found dead in the garden of his Compton home with stab wounds to his chest and heart on October 14.

His son, Dr Timothy Betts, said: "Retired for 14 years, he was an extremely well-respected paediatrician and a great father.

"We tried to tell him that he shouldn't be worried about the allegation but he got more and more stressed. It was against his entire nature and career, and the whole allegation process was a horror for him.

"His worry was that, although he hadn't done anything wrong, the accusation would get out on social media and in the press. In the end he wasn't him and his thinking went from rational to irrational."

Detective Sergeant Andrew Hawkins had been involved in investigating the allegation.

Although it had been decided to 'take no further action' on October 13, police could not inform Dr Betts until October 21 due to official process guidelines, he said.

General Practitioner Dr Mark Roberts said that Dr Betts' had been contemplating suicide days before his death.

He added: "He told me that he felt like a metal coil that could go 'ping' at any time."

Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson concluded as death by suicide.

Dr Betts, of Hurdle Way, started his career splitting time between Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and Southampton General Hospital before moving to the latter permanently in 1989.

At the time of his death dozens of tributes poured in from former colleagues, patients and friends.

Dr Derek Sandeman, medical director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Peter Betts was an inspirational paediatrician who worked here for more than 20 years, led the development of paediatric and child protection services and was a key figure in the development of the unit.

"He also established a centre of excellence in paediatric endocrinology and diabetes and was recognised nationally and internationally for his skills and expertise.

"He will be well to known to many staff members and impacted massively on many children and their families.

"He was a gifted teacher and mentor and was loved by everyone."