St Leonards shop owner took his own life a day after mother’s death

The ambulance service was called to the address but unable to save Andrew Piggins
The ambulance service was called to the address but unable to save Andrew Piggins

A former shop owner from St Leonards took his own life after a long battle with depression, an inquest has heard.

Andrew Piggins, 55, the former owner of Kings Road Emporium, was found dead by his partner Michael Ouldred on June 10, 2019, at the home they rented together in North Street, St Leonards.

At an inquest into his death, held in Hastings on Tuesday (September 10), Mr Ouldred said his partner of 24 years had battled with depression.

A day before his death, Andrew’s mother – who he had cared for since her health deteriorated in 2015 – had passed away, Mr Ouldred told the court.

In a statement read to the court on his behalf, Mr Ouldred said: “After a number of years living outside the area, we returned to Hastings in 2015 because Andrew’s mother had become quite unwell.

“I was working in Crawley and we rented an address in North Street where we lived our lives together.

“As Andrew’s mother’s health deteriorated, he spent a lot of time looking after her. He was an amazing cook and cooked her everything she asked for. Her health was at a stage where it was full-time care for Andrew.

“Around 2015, we leased a property in Kings Road and Andrew opened his business – King Road Emporium.”

Mr Ouldred said he noticed a change in Andrew’s behaviour when, in late 2016, a window at his business was damaged. He said as a result Andrew often sheltered away and ‘wanted nothing to do with the shop’.

By May 2019, Mr Ouldred said Andrew was ‘level’ until his mother suffered a fall and broke her leg.

“Andrew blamed himself for everything,” Mr Ouldred added.

“He’d also received a letter about repossession of his shop. Everything was adding up for him and he had refused to see his mum in hospital.”

On the morning of Andrew’s death, Mr Ouldred said ‘something felt off’ when Andrew did not walk him to the door to see him off for work as he normally did.

Mr Ouldred said he had not heard from Andrew all day but said this was not unusual. When he returned home at approximately 8pm, he said he found the chain on the door, and knew something was wrong.

He managed to get inside the property where he found Andrew dead. Paramedics arrived at the scene at 8.24pm but concluded Andrew had been dead for some time, the court heard.

Detective sergeant Chloe Burgess told the court there were no supicious circumstances or any evidence to suggest anybody else was involved.

Senior coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze returned a conclusion of suicide.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.

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