A police hostage negotiator suffering from depression and anxiety took his own life on Christmas Eve, an inquest has heard.
Detective Inspector Terry Hopkins, 40, who had also served in the British Army, was found by fellow officers having hanged himself near a Cenotaph in Pontypridd, South Wales.
An inquest into his death heard he had been prescribed medication for depression and anxiety after joining the force in 2004 for which he was also receiving counselling, but neither colleagues nor his family said he had shown any indications of wanting to self harm.
Pontypridd Coroner’s Court heard the father of three had previously served “with distinction” in the 9/12th Royal Lancers between 1996 and 2002 including a tour of Bosnia.
It is with great sadness that we can confirm the death of serving Detective Inspector Terry Hopkins, who passed away on…
Two years later he joined South Wales Police where he progressed to become a negotiator, and also met his wife, fellow police constable Leanne Hopkins.
She told the inquest they had been experiencing “issues” in their eight-year marriage in the days leading to his death, which saw him sleeping in a spare room in their home in Pontypridd.
She said she was woken on the morning of Christmas Eve last year by the sound of Mr Hopkins driving off in his car, but became concerned for his welfare and began searching the Pontypridd Common walking trail for him when she realised he had left his work phone at their home despite being scheduled to work a shift at Barry CID.
She dialled 999 after finding his abandoned car parked in the area and saw that his wedding ring and handwritten notes were in the back.
She was then joined by colleagues who informed her her husband had been found dead by the common’s Cenotaph.
Mrs Hopkins said: “During our whole relationship he had never once expressed any suicidal thoughts.
“His death has come as a great shock to me, friends, and colleagues. I don’t think anyone could have seen this coming.”
Several police officers said in statements they also did not witness indications Mr Hopkins wanted to end his own life, and confirmed he was not subject to any internal investigation before his death.
Detective Constable Dean Taylor said he had met him three days before, and described him being “excited” about his upcoming promotion as an intelligence commander.
A toxicology report found Mr Hopkins had drunk alcohol before his death, but coroner Ian Boyce said he did not believe it altered Mr Hopkins’ “specific intention to take his own life”, which was supported by a handwritten note he had left in his car.
Mr Boyce recorded the cause of death as suicide by hanging.
A fundraising page in memory of Mr Hopkins launched by his son, Oliver, following his death has raised £15,596 for PTSD charity PTSD Resolution.
Sadly this Christmas hasn't been the same for many of us locally.
— C/I Jason Herbert (@FirearmsChief) December 28, 2018
In a post on JustGiving, the police officer’s son wrote: “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, and we lost him on Christmas Eve 2018.
“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.
After his death Chief Superintendent Stuart Parfitt, divisional commander for Bridgend and Vale of Glamorgan, said: “Terry was a fantastic detective, hard working and enthusiastic and a great ambassador for the communities of South Wales that he served.
“Terry was a hugely respected member of my team and everyone is totally shocked and devastated to hear of his death.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.”