Ex-soldier Terry Hopkins died near Pontypridd cenotaph
A former soldier suffering depression and anxiety took his own life close to a war memorial on Christmas Eve, an inquest has heard.
Terry Hopkins, 40, a police hostage negotiator, previously served in the British Army for six years, including a tour of Bosnia.
The detective inspector was found by fellow officers having hanged himself in a park in Pontypridd.
Coroner Ian Boyes recorded a conclusion of suicide at a hearing in Pontypridd.
Mr Hopkins served "with distinction" in the 9/12th Royal Lancers between 1996 and 2002, before joining South Wales Police, the town's coroner's court was told.
However, the father-of-three had been prescribed medication for depression and anxiety and was also receiving counselling.
His wife Leanne, told the inquest they had been experiencing "issues" in the days before his death, after eight years of marriage.
She said she was woken at about 06:00 GMT on Christmas Eve last year, by the sound of her husband driving off in his car.
She alerted emergency services after later becoming concerned for his welfare when she found the car abandoned on Pontypridd Common.
"I shone a torch in the back of the car and saw some notes and Terry's wedding ring," said Mrs Hopkins, also a police officer.
"I ran up to the cenotaph where I thought that was where Terry might be."
Mrs Hopkins was then joined by fellow officers who told her her husband's body had been found.
"During our whole relationship he never once expressed any suicidal thoughts," she said.
"His death has come as a great shock to me, friends, and colleagues. I don't think anyone could have seen this coming."
After his death, colleagues and friends raised more than £15,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) charities - although the inquest heard he was never formally diagnosed with the condition.
His son Oliver wrote on a fundraising page: "My dad loved his job, but behind the smiles he was carrying a burden of the sights he had seen and the events he witnessed, and became very unwell, suffering with PTSD.
"The recent loss of him has affected us all and has put into perspective what someone goes through mentally after leaving or being in any Armed Forces."