A devoted and popular Sussex Police officer who suffered post-traumatic stress after witnessing a nail bomb attack has been found hanged after being told by his superiors that he was being investigated for misconduct, an inquest has heard.
43-year-old PC Doug Franks was found deceased at his home address in Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, on 10th February 2021.
He was found by his grandfather, Tony Franks, who lives at the same address.
PC Franks’s girlfriend, Emma Neal, a consultant nurse, said in a statement read to an inquest hearing that PC Franks was proud to be a police officer but that he suffered from depression.
She added that in order to cope with his mental health issues, PC Frank would drink and could often be found in the gym.
Ms Neal told the hearing that PC Franks was a loving father who “adored” his son.
The inquest heard how PC Franks had been prescribed anti-depressants and that he had previously been sectioned after trying to take his own life.
Ms Neal said that they would support each other because of their high-pressure jobs and added: “Doug loved being a police officer and found it very rewarding helping those who self-harmed or attempted suicide.”
After his death, The Sun reported that the officer was being investigated for misconduct for breaching COVID rules after he met a colleague in a car after work to complete some job-related paperwork.
The inquest was told that PC Franks had been served papers for misconduct on the day before he took his own life.
PC Franks had become “emotional” when he was told about the disciplinary proceedings against him and he feared that he could lose his job.
On the evening before PC Franks was found dead by his grandfather, he had searched the internet for methods of suicide. He had also searched “police officer breaching Covid”.
Ms Neal said he had also told her that he needed to “bury his head in the sand and talk to the Fed (Police Federation) reps”.
Ms Neal said she sent him messages on February 9 saying “he was amazing”, that she missed him and “do not forget that” and he replied: “Thanks”. She added: “I am struggling to comprehend what has happened to him and he is no longer in my life.”
Following PC Franks’ death, Sussex’s chief constable Jo Shiner said:
“Doug was a much-liked and well-respected colleague, who fulfilled his ambition to be a police officer when he joined Sussex Police in July 2019.
“He was proud to achieve independent patrol status and served to keep people in Sussex safe.
“A popular colleague, he was devoted to his son and his career.
“He joined the force after working as a financial investigator with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit where he built strong friendships and was known for his infectious enthusiasm.”
The coroner adjourned the hearing to give his conclusion today (Wednesday 16th March).
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Mental Health Charity’ Mind’ also operates a mental health helpline for members of the emergency services. To contact a member of their team, call 0300 123 3393.
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