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Death of Thatcham father-of-three was suicide, coroner rules

Inquest hears how 36-year-old kept true state of mind hidden from family and friends

Chris Ord


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A FATHER-of-three from Thatcham was found hanged just hours after unexpectedly quitting his job at a catering company, an inquest heard.

François Fauconnier-Tola’s body was discovered by his boss at his home in Chapel Street on the morning of Thursday, February 16.

The 36-year-old had recently separated from his wife of 13 years and had become increasingly unhappy at work, the inquest was told.

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.

The popular amateur rugby player, originally from Grenoble in south eastern France, was described as a “great father” and a “man who had a passion for everything he did” by his widow Roxy Fauconnier.

Mrs Fauconnier told the coroner she was not aware of any history of depression in her husband’s past.

However, the inquest, held at Reading Town Hall on Thursday, June 22, heard how Mr Fauconnier-Tola’s true state of mind had largely remained hidden from his wife and friends.

Mrs Fauconnier said: “I’ve never been anywhere near anyone who had mental illness or who thinks like this, now I’ve been through this maybe I can recognise it a bit more.”

During a private counselling session, which Mr Fauconnier-Tola attended in the wake of his separation from his wife, he revealed as a child he had witnessed his mother attempt suicide on several occasions.

In a statement given to the coroner, counsellor Nicola Landless from the Newbury Wellbeing Centre described the session as “emotional”, saying Mr Fauconnier-Tola had “suppressed a lot of anger and sadness over the years” but at no point expressed any suicidal thoughts.

At the inquest, Mrs Fauconnier also raised concerns that her husband’s previous battle with cancer may have played a part in his decision to take his own life.

However, the coroner said this was unlikely to have been a factor after a post mortem examination confirmed he was still in remission at the time of his death.

The inquest heard how, on the morning of February 16, Mr Fauconnier-Tola had become ‘upset’ at work after a colleague had called in sick.

According to a witness statement from line manager Michael Cunningham, Mr Fauconnier-Tola said during a telephone call that he was being asked to do too much, before abruptly leaving and returning home.

During the phone conversation he said: “I’m supposed to clean, cook, make phone calls – I’ve had enough.

“I’m going to put the shutters down and hand in my notice.”

The conversation prompted a concerned Mr Cunningham to visit his colleague’s two-bed home in Thatcham, where he found his lifeless body at around 8.30am.

Recording a verdict of suicide, assistant coroner for Berkshire Emma Jones said: “He has planned this, we’re not dealing with somebody who has taken their own life in a very quick fashion.

“It takes an element of planning which would indicate to me that person’s intention.”

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Fauconnier said: “He was a great father to his three boys.

“He had a passion for everything he did, whether it was his family, cooking, rugby – everything.”

Thatcham Rugby Union Football Club, where Mr Fauconnier-Tola played for a number of years, has since named a junior tournament after their former teammate.

Paying tribute to Mr Fauconnier-Tola, club chairman Will Sewell, said: “He was our Frenchman, he was our international player.

“He would always take a laugh, he would always try his best and if he could do anything to help he would.

“He was a part of the club and he will be sadly missed.”

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