Sunderland gardener killed himself by eating tree

Mark Boyle was a talented musician
Mark Boyle was a talented musician
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A LANDSCAPE gardener killed himself by eating part of a poisonous tree.

Mark Boyle learned about the fatal effects of the yew when he took a course in arboriculture.

The 27-year-old musician, songwriter and SAFC fan, of Gray Road, Hendon, researched the highly poisonous tree after slipping into depression as he struggled with money worries.

Today his devastated family said they hoped something positive could come from the tragedy.

An inquest yesterday heard that detectives discovered leaves and wood from the tree in his van and at his home, with checks on Mark’s laptop showed he had visited websites about the yew.

A post-mortem examination discovered the remains of the foliage in his body.

Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said he had not come across a similar case in the 20-plus years he had sat at inquests.

He added: “It seems it is a very rare way of people taking their own lives.

“The evidence that I have seen is that the ingestion of yew let to fatal consequences, and that seems to be what Mark has been looking at on his computer and certainly what he had been taught as part of the course he was attending at college.”

Mark’s body was found in the car park of the Shell garage on the south-bound A19 at Easington, in the early hours of December 15.

His van was discovered parked nearby, the hearing at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court was told.

In a tribute, Mark’s parents Anne and Philip said: “Mark will be remembered for his beaming smile, being full of fun, his incredible musical talent, and for his knowledge about nature.

“A wonderful, gifted young man, he will be missed forever by many, especially his devastated mam, dad and sister Sarah.”

They added: “He had four passions in life: Sunderland football club, music, gardening and people.”

Only after the tragedy, they found out that one of Mark’s songs was about watching The Lads at Roker Park with his dad.

Called Me Da, it has been uploaded on to file-sharing website YouTube.

The family are now urging people to seek help with if they are facing difficulties or depression, and have raised £1,300 in Mark’s name for mental health group Sunderland Mind, at Norfolk Street.

A tree has been planted in his memory at East Durham College’s Houghall campus and in West Sussex, where he had lived for 10 years.

A special football match, for the Mark Boyle Memorial Cup, has also been held in Sunderland.

Verdict: took own life.