Manchester

Lee Gaunt inquest: Fireman 'couldn't function' after colleague death

Lee Gaunt Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption Lee Gaunt had nightmares and was suicidal after the death of his colleague, the inquest heard

A firefighter who hanged himself "couldn't function" after one of his colleagues died tackling a blaze in Manchester, an inquest has heard.

The widow of Lee Gaunt said her husband had predicted something "catastrophic" would happen hours before the death of Stephen Hunt in 2013.

Mr Gaunt was found hanged at Stalybridge Fire Station in October.

Caroline Gaunt said that following his colleague's death her husband "went into meltdown".

She told the hearing the fatal fire in Manchester's northern quarter had "changed his life and mental state completely".

Ms Gaunt said her husband "could see all the failings on that job" and felt "somehow he had contributed" and should have raised his concerns.

When he returned home after the blaze he was distressed and said he felt the incident was being managed badly, she added.

The next morning he discovered his colleague had died.

Ms Gaunt told the inquest her husband subsequently suffered nightmares and was suicidal.

She said he had sought medical help and, two weeks before he took his own life, had told a station manager he was suffering from stress.

The inquest also heard Mr Gaunt had been informed he might be called as a witness at the inquest into the death of his colleague.

Peter O'Reilly, of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said his colleagues had been "devastated" by Lee's death.

He said: "We have tried to encourage all our staff to look out for and look after each other, ensuring support is available for anyone who needs it."

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