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Murder accused took own life
5:20pm Friday 27th September 2013 in News
A MILLIONAIRE accused of trying to murder his estranged wife and her lover in Ledbury hanged himself after being told that the prison where he was detained was to be closed, an inquest heard today.
Peter Mason, 58, was anxious about the prospect of moving jails or having to share a cell with another inmate.
He had warned staff at Gloucester Jail that if he had to share a cell he would harm himself or other inmates.
He also 'showed anxiety' at the concept of changing prisons, the Gloucester inquest was told.
The jury returned a verdict that he committed suicide.
Mr Mason - who had launched a frenzied attack on his 45 year old wife Debbie and her childhood sweetheart Michael Langden in Ledbury on July 1st 2012, stabbing them both several times - had just settled down to prison life in his own single cell in the Victorian prison when the closure announcement was made.
Assistant deputy Gloucestershire Coroner Tom Osborne said "The imminent change of prisons was regarded as a possible trigger for suicide and Mr Mason, who had his own cell in Gloucester, was identified as not wishing to share a cell."
Mr Mason, former £200,000 a year account director of Hewlett Packard, had twice attempted suicide after his arrest - once by trying to stab himself in the throat while in hospital and then by trying to open a wrist wound while in police custody.
When he hanged himself in his cell he left a goodbye note for his son and daughter which was found by his body along with a photograph of the children.
Prison mental health nurse Stephen Gully, who was the lead contact for Mr Mason, told the inquest "He said he had suffered a downhill spiral since his marriage breakdown and he was emotionally disturbed when I first met him.
"We regarded him as being a high suicide risk and he was monitored every 30 minutes , 24 hours a day.
"He was full of remorse for his crime but after a while he started to cope very well in prison, got a job in the library, made friends with other prisoners and helped them with legal letters to their lawyers and so forth.
"By December there were no longer serious concerns about suicide. But then the decision was made at the start of January to close Gloucester Prison and the process of moving prisoners out began.
"He liked his own space and needed control of his own cell - his world needed peace."
Former prison officer Andrew Barnes said "When the closure was announced prisoners started to be decanted and Peter remained on C-Wing virtually on his own.
"Then he was moved to B Wing and then A Wing where he died."
Prison officer Jim Sweeney added "A change of prisons was regarded as the possible trigger for the suicide of Peter.
"When he was temporarily remanded to different prisons he had to be put on constant suicide watch.
"But he stabilised when he returned to Gloucester."
Prison mental health nurse Hannah Rigby told the inquest "On Jan 17th, two days before he died, I was sent to see him. He had just been moved to A wing.
"He was very anxious and stressed and fixated about the idea of sharing a cell. He said if he had to share a cell he might harm himself or another person."
Dean Gibson, the prison officer who found Mr Mason hanging, said "I looked through the peephole and saw Peter ligatured from the top bunk.
"He was on his knees and I unlocked the cell door. I pulled out my fishknife to cut him down and I took his weight.
"I felt for a pulse but could not find one."
Mr Mason's marriage ended in January last year when his wife left with the children to live with Mr Longden in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
The lovers had previously dated at sixth-form college.
Last July Mason travelled to Ledbury to meet his wife of 10 years in a pub to discuss financial matters and the sale of their homes.
After she left, he allegedly followed her to her new cottage and stabbed her and her new partner numerous times.
Mason then tried to flee the scene in his car and hit a motorcyclist, who was uninjured, before being arrested.
Mrs Mason suffered a punctured lung and serious injuries to one of her hands. Her new partner also sustained serious stab injuries to his body, head and back.
Friends of Mason, who was married twice previously, said he had become ‘obsessed’ with his wife not receiving his money after she left him.
A former business partner, who asked not to be named, said: “There had been a lot of wild talk. He felt his entire life had been taken away from him and she had left him with nothing.
“He was very much against giving Debbie any kind of financial support. He was determined he wasn’t going to give her any money.
“He had put the house on the market but had stopped doing the gardening because he said he couldn’t be bothered any more. I think it was his intention to let it be repossessed.
“He would rather pull the house down and destroy it than give her anything. It was like he was harming himself in order to harm her. He wanted to create a kind of pyrrhic victory.”
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