A caring, loyal, family man, found hanging at Sidley cricket ground, may have died accidentally an inquest heard this week.
Jonathan Simon Kemp, 42, was discovered hanging at the cricket ground on July 22, 2013. A suicide note was found at the scene but questions were raised at the inquest over whether he intended to take his life or if his actions had been a cry for help that tragically went wrong.
Assistant coroner Christopher Wilkinson presided over the inquest attended by his parents, family, friends and officers from Sussex police.
Witnesses giving evidence at the hearing described Mr Kemp, of Ingrams Avenue, Bexhill, as ‘a caring, loyal, family man’ who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse but had actively sought help to overcome these dependencies, which included heroin and crack cocaine.
Postmortem toxicology reports stated the alcohol in Mr Kemp’s blood was equivalent to three times over the drink drive limit. Prescribed and non-prescribed drugs were also evident though not in excess and were consistent with the rehabilitation programmes he was on.
Describing events leading up to his death witnesses said father of three Mr Kemp had been traumatised after his partner Michelle suffered a miscarriage and the subsequent breakdown of the relationship.
The evening prior to the discovery of his body Mr Kemp had an argument with his family and exchanged a number of texts with Michelle. They met and arranged to meet again the next day. Nicola Honeysett, a friend of Mr Kemp who was with him during this time, said he was ‘really upset’ about losing the baby and that he ‘just wanted Michelle back’. She said initially he ‘cheered up’ following the meeting with his ex. However, later he sent a text to Michelle indicating that he was going to take his life, leading Ms Honeysett to believe that something else must have happened after his meeting with Michelle. All the texts were not available at the inquest.
Questions were also raised about the position in which Mr Kemp’s body was found, casting doubt over whether or not he had intended to commit suicide or if he had hoped to be found in time.
Mr Wilkinson said that it was clear that Mr Kemp was ‘very liked’ and ‘much loved’ and despite the presence of a note and the suggestion of self-harm in texts an element of doubt surrounded his death. He said: “This doesn’t mean he didn’t intend to take his own life but from the position Mr Kemp was found it may have been a cry for help and, misguidedly, he thought he’d be found. I can’t say either way.” Mr Wilkinson recorded an open verdict.