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Suicide SAFC coach had a 'difficult time'

A former Sunderland goalkeeper who killed himself had a "difficult time" following the birth of his son who had cerebral palsy, an inquest was told.

Tim Carter hoped for a son who would follow in his footsteps as a professional footballer, his brother told the hearing.

He hanged himself from a tree near a lay-by a day after he returned alone to the UK from a family holiday in Majorca, Spain.

South Manchester deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley was told the week-long break started badly over a row with an airline about seating arrangements for his son on the outbound flight.

It culminated in a "domestic situation" when Carter, 40, left his wife, Gina, his son and his daughter behind as he flew back, the inquest heard.

His wife returned the following day on June 18 this year and alerted police when there was no sign of her husband at the family home in Durham.

There was also some concerns about the content of text messages sent to her by Carter shortly before his death, the hearing was told.

His body was found in bushes in Stretford, Manchester, on June 19.

A blue nylon rope was discovered hanging from the branch of a tree and Carter's body was beneath it lying in undergrowth.

Gina's brother-in-law, John Redfern, said he and his wife met up briefly with the couple in Majorca.

He said they had "not had a good week" which ended in the "domestic situation" when Carter travelled home alone on their scheduled departure date.

"Gina was upset that he had gone to the airport without her and the kids," he said.

He added he did not believe Carter had got over the incident involving the airline and his four-year-old son.

Acting Chief Inspector Robert Tonge, of Stretford Police Station, said Greater Manchester Police were called by Durham Police in the early hours of June 19 about Carter's disappearance.

It was believed Sunderland AFC's youth academy goalkeeping coach was staying at the Tulip Hotel in Trafford Park, Manchester.

A search of his room took place but no trace of Carter was found and his Renault Laguna was not in the car park.

Officers later combed a stretch of the A57 in Greater Manchester after it was established he had earlier sent a text message along the route.

Acting Chief Insp Tonge said his body was discovered just after midday in bushes close to a lay-by in Highfield Close, Stretford.

He had an obvious neck injury which was consistent with someone having been hung.

There were no suspicious circumstances and a post-mortem examination showed he died as a result of asphyxia.

CCTV of the area showed his vehicle parked in the lay-by at about 10pm on the evening of June 18 and it was still there at 3am the following day when the recording stopped, he added.

Four hand-written notes to family members were found in a laptop case in his hotel room.

The contents of the notes were not read out at the inquest held at Stockport Magistrates' Court but Acting Chief Insp Tonge said they showed Carter "had an expectation of death".

Details of the text messages were also not given, although only evidence of messages sent in response by Gina remained after he had deleted his sent items.

Carter's brother, Stephen, said he him at a family party about a month before his death and did not detect any cause for concern.

However, he said he was aware that he had experienced personal problems over his son's condition.

"He found it very difficult. What Tim wanted was a son to follow in his footsteps," he said.

His brother also suffered a trauma as a child, which had stayed with him, when he was accidentally scalded by his father with burning oil from a chip pan.

In addition he spoke at the party about being "effectively demoted" by Sunderland from his previous position as first-team goalkeeping coach to youth team academy coach.

Carter said: "His attitude to his job had changed. He had lost all interest to a certain extent at that time."

Gina Carter did not attend the hearing but excerpts from her statement issued to the coroner were read out.

She said her husband of 16 years was "a quiet, respected and well-mannered man".

He was also a private person and the couple and their son and eight-year-old daughter were close as a family, she said.

In his career he was fit, agile and a perfectionist who did not smoke or drink.

In a statement, Sunderland club doctor David Gough GP said he could not recall seeing Carter in a professional capacity during his employment but he did talk to him on a friendship basis about the distress caused to his family over the birth of his son.

Recording a verdict Carter had taken his own life on June 18, Kearsley said: "It is clear to me considering the notes left and the text messages sent that there were matters playing on his mind at that time.

"We heard he had a difficult time following the birth of his son and he had lost interest in his job.

"Whatever the reason, it is clear that this came out of the blue to his family."

Carter played 50 games for Sunderland between 1987 and 1992 before later rejoining them in a coaching capacity.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn described his former team-mate as "Mr Nice Guy" and said his death had "devastated" everyone at the club.

He was capped three times with England's youth squad in 1985 and made his Football League debut for his local team Bristol Rovers aged 18.

Carter joined Sunderland on Christmas Eve in 1987 and went on to appear for Newport, Carlisle, Bristol City, Birmingham, Hartlepool, Millwall, Blackpool and Oxford. He ended his playing days in 1999 at Halifax.