A ‘warm and caring father-of-three’ shot himself after suffering from insomnia and anxiety, an inquest heard.

Retired chartered surveyor Clive Buckley’s body was discovered by his wife of 37 years shortly after they breakfasted together at their home in Wootton, near Woodstock, on April 15.

Oxford Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday afternoon that Mr Buckley, 76, had struggled increasingly in the months leading up to his death with sleeplessness and anxiety.

The life-long teetotaller and keen dancer had suffered a significant health scare in early 2020, when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer although surgeons later successfully removed a tumour.

In March this year, a couple of weeks before his death, he complained to his doctor of insomnia ‘which he ascribed to a sensation of hot arms’.

An examination revealed no physical concerns and although Mr Buckley, who had almost no history of poor mental health, spoke of having ‘worries’ GP Dr Trevor Turner said his patient was ‘unable or unwilling to elaborate further’. He was prescribed a sleeping medication and, later, anti-depressants.

The night before his death, Mr Buckley and his partner had slept poorly, she said in a statement.

When she went downstairs the next morning to find that her husband was already awake and had had breakfast.

She returned to the bedroom and had just sat on the bed when she heard the door open to the cupboard under the stairs, where Mr Buckley kept the shotgun he used for clay pigeon shooting and for which he had a firearms licence.

Mrs Buckley believed he was getting the Hoover out to vacuum the downstairs floors. When she heard a loud bang she went downstairs to find her husband had shot himself in the head. His body was lying in the doorway to the garage.

She rang 999 then went to alert a next-door neighbour, who was retired from the police force. A post-mortem found the cause of death to be a ‘massive head trauma’.

In a statement, she paid tribute to her late husband as a ‘gentle and caring man who loved his family’.

He was a ‘warm, caring father-of-three’ who had a very wide variety of interests, including dancing, volunteering for ornithological charity the RSPB and clay pigeon shooting. He read widely and ‘often became very knowledgeable’ on subjects that had piqued his interest.

Senior coroner Darren Salter recorded a conclusion of suicide. He said: “It is noteworthy there isn’t a significant mental health history at all, apart from recently with his insomnia and low mood. In many respects, it is a surprising case and not something that would have been anticipated.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

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