Wife found Wales Assembly Member Carl Sargeant hanged at home, inquest told

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Wales Assembly Member Carl Sargeant was found hanged at his home by his wife, a coroner's court has heard.

The 49-year-old was found dead last Tuesday by his wife Bernadette, four days after being removed from his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children.

The father-of-two, from Connah's Quay, North Wales, was suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping".

Mrs Sargeant had gone downstairs and found a note on the door of her utility room in her husband's handwriting advising her not to enter but to call the police, Ruthin Coroner's Court heard.

John Gittins, Senior Coroner for North Wales (East and Central), giving details at the opening of the inquest into Mr Sargeant's death, continued: "Nonetheless she did go in and found her husband on the floor after an apparent act of self-harm."

Efforts to resuscitate him continued by Mrs Sargeant and family members along with paramedics until life was pronounced extinct.

A provisional cause of death was given as hanging. Mr Gittins said his inquest will not consider the truth of allegations made against Mr Sargeant or making adjudications on "who is right or wrong".

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has called for a senior QC to carry out an independent inquiry to examine his handling of the case.

Mr Sargeant's family has criticised the decision to ask the Permanent Secretary to begin preparatory work and said it will prevent the probe from being truly independent.

Mr Gittens, before adjourning the inquest to a date yet to be fixed, continued: "But as part of my investigation I must gather evidence to assist me in reaching a conclusion, as, when the final inquest hearing takes place, I will be required to give consideration to reaching a conclusion of suicide which would require me to be certain, that is to say beyond reasonable doubt, that it was Mr Sargeant's intention to end his life at that time and I must therefore have regard to his mental state and his ability to form such an intention."

Mr Gittins added: "The events of the days preceding his death may be relevant to my inquiry", and said he would be seeking statements from Mr Sargeant's family and the First Minister and "possibly from others at the Welsh Assembly in the coming weeks".

He said he would be "examining carefully the steps taken by the Assembly to have regard to Mr Sargeant's mental welfare prior to his death".

Due to the independent inquiry already announced, the coroner said he was not able to set a date for the inquest to resume, and its own findings may have a bearing on the inquest.