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Wiltshire deputy police chief David Ainsworth killed himself

image captionDavid Ainsworth was removed from his duties and later put on secondment to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham

A police chief being investigated over allegations he sexually harassed female colleagues took his own life, a coroner has ruled.

David Ainsworth, Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, hanged himself in his garage after fearing he would "lose everything".

The officer, 49, had been removed from duties and later placed on secondment after a series of complaints.

The coroner also cleared the force of any failure in caring for his welfare.

Recording his verdict at Trowbridge Town Hall, David Ridley said he was satisfied that no third party was involved.

The coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon added: "On the evidence I consider that the appropriate conclusion to record here is that David Ainsworth took his own life while suffering from depression."

'Any faith'

Mr Ridley had earlier ruled that Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which places a "substantial obligation" on the state to protect life, did not apply in this case.

This meant that the inquest could only consider the immediate cause of Mr Ainsworth's death and not the circumstances surrounding it.

But speaking after the inquest, Mr Ainsworth's girlfriend Joanne Howse was critical of the coroner's decision to limit the scope of his inquiry.

She said Mr Ridley should have considered the effect of the internal police inquiry on Mr Ainsworth.

"I think that David's state of mind really was as a result of the way he was investigated," Ms Howse said.

"That made it very difficult for him to have any faith in the welfare arrangements that were made for him."

In a statement released after the verdict, Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Police Authority said their "sincere and heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with David's family, partner Joanna and friends".

'Unacceptable behaviour'

"This has been an exceptionally difficult period for all concerned, not only for David's family, partner and friends, but also for many within our organisation," it said.

"Thirteen members of staff raised a total of 26 individual allegations which were being investigated by an outside force at the time of David Ainsworth's tragic death.

"The staff and managers who came forward did so bravely, rightly and properly. They will continue to receive our full support," the joint statement said.

Unison, which represents some of the women who made complaints about Mr Ainsworth, said they had been "badly let down" by the police and called for the service to learn the "very serious lessons" the case had highlighted.

Ben Priestley, national officer for police staff, said: "The death of David Ainsworth is a personal tragedy.

"There is also no doubt that the women who were subjected to sexual harassment by Mr Ainsworth were badly let down by the police service and the way it responds to unacceptable behaviour in the workplace."

Removed from duties

The claims against father-of-four Mr Ainsworth were being investigated by officers from South Wales Police when he was found dead in his garage at his home in Potterne, Wiltshire, on 22 March 2011.

He was notified in September 2010 that allegations of misconduct had been made against him.

Mr Ainsworth was removed from his duties and later put on secondment to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.

He had previously served for 22 years with Kent Police, where he rose to assistant chief constable and was the Association of Chief Police Officers' spokesman on vehicle crime before moving to Wiltshire in 2008.

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