Widow’s tribute to much-loved teacher whose death remains a mystery

Mark Bushnell and family
Mark Bushnell and family
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A WIDOW gave a moving tribute to her husband saying he loved her, his family and his work.

Joanna Bushnell made the statement at the inquest into the death of her husband, Mark.

Mr Bushnell, deputy headteacher at Durham School in Quarryheads Lane, Durham City, went missing from his home in Clay Lane on March 9.

His body was found by a member of the public on the beach at Blackhall on March 22.

“We were together for 29 years,” said Mrs Bushnell. “We were very much in love.

“He had so much to live for, he loved me, he loved his job, and he loved our three boys.

“We had plans, both for later in the day he went missing and for the future.

“Mark would never dream of intentionally leaving us.”

The inquest at the Coroner’s Court in Crook was told Mr Bushnell, 50, left home at about 11.30am on March 9 to find a launderette because the family washing machine had broken.

His Citroen car was seen turning towards the car park of a picnic spot at Blackhall at 12.24pm.

Mrs Bushnell texted him to ask how he was doing.

He replied at 12.27pm: “Not be long, take care, X.”

A postmortem examination found Mr Bushnell died from drowning.

The only injury to his body was a small bruise on an ankle, suggesting he had not fallen from the cliff.

Detective Inspector David Cuthbert of Durham Police said extensive background checks had revealed no reason for Mr Bushnell to want to harm himself.

“The family have no debt,” Det Insp Cuthbert told the hearing. “Checks on his home and work computers found nothing criminal, or even anything some might think was morally questionable.

“There was a suggestion he may have been upset about being overlooked for the vacant head’s job at the school.

“But Mark had told several friends and colleagues he saw his role as more pastoral than administrative, so he would not be applying for the post of head.”

Coroner Andrew Tweddle said the death was ‘unfathomable’.

“So much of what we have heard paints a picture of an ordinary family man,” added the coroner.

“Perhaps the type of man many of us would like to be.

“We are not going to know why he went to where he did on that day.

“There is nowhere near enough evidence to say he intended to kill himself, nor is there any evidence of an accident.

“I just don’t know how he came by his death.”

Verdict: open.