Electrician found dead on Hartlepool church railings did not mean to take his own life, coroner rules

Zak Wormald
Zak Wormald

AN award-winning young electrician whose body was found slumped on a church fence did not mean to take his own life, a coroner has ruled.

Zak Wormald, of Dawlish Drive, in the Fens area of Hartlepool, was discovered hanging on railings near St Patrick’s Church, in Maxwell Road, in Hartlepool, by a passer-by.

Despite the efforts of the emergency services, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hartlepool Coroner’s Court heard that the 21-year-old had previously self-harmed and may have been depressed after a “rocky” relationship with his girlfriend.

The inquest heard that alcohol tests suggested Zak had drank six pints of beer or the equivalent of 14 measures of spirits prior to his death, and there was also a trace of cocaine in his system.

The inquest was attended by Zak’s family, including his grandparents who he had lived with, and his father.

Coroner Malcolm Donnelly asked them: “I think he was a bit depressed because he had broken up with his girlfriend, did you know anything about that?”

Zak’s grandmother said he and his girlfriend had been arguing the day before.

Zak’s father said in the months prior to his death he hadn’t seen his son much and had “warned him off” attending Sunday gatherings at the pub with his father as Zak and his girlfriend would end up rowing and “spoil everybody’s night”.

The court heard that around 4.40am on November 18 last year, Michael Lawson found Zak “leaning up against the church railings” and it “looked like he was asleep”, but on closer inspection there was something around his neck.

Mr Lawson had no phone battery but ran home and told his mother, and the emergency services were called.

Consultant pathologist Kawshik Dasgupta found the cause of death was hanging.

Mr Donnelly said: “I don’t think this was planned. If you were going to kill yourself you wouldn’t go to a public place where there was some railings to do it.

“So he can’t have been thinking rationally, it seems to me.” He said if this was “genuinely thought-through” it would have been done in private.

Mr Donnelly added: “We can say with certainty he was upset for reasons we know about, and this affects people in different ways.”

He said Zak was probably feeling “hopeless” and for a verdict of suicide to be reached he would need to be satisfied that Zak intended the consequences of his actions.

Mr Donnelly recorded a narrative verdict, saying: “He killed himself but there were doubts as to his intentions.”

Zak’s father added: “None of us thought it was intentional.”