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Gary Speed Found Dead


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  • 1 month later...

The widow of former Wales manager Gary Speed tearfully revealed that in the days before he died he had 'talked in terms of taking his life' in a text threatening suicide.

Louise Speed, 40, made the revelation during the inquest into the former footballer's death at Warrington Town Hall in Cheshire.

But coroner Nicholas Rheinberg returned a narrative verdict, saying: 'The evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental.'

Mrs Speed also today admitted that she stormed out of their house after an argument and spent the night in the car hours before he was found dead.

She described to the inquest how they had 'had words' the night before he was found hanging in the garage. She said: 'We walked in the house and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing.'

Inquest: Louise Speed, pictured, arrives at Warrington Town Hall this afternoon for the inquest into her husband's death

'I suggested I would go for a drive. He blocked the back door and said "You are not going anywhere",' she added.

'I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes. Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think.'

The inquest heard Mrs Speed drove to the 'top of the road' and tried to ring her husband's mobile. She parked up for a short time before driving back to the house at 1.30am. She tried to phone again but he did not answer.

'I could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step' - Louise Speed recalls the moment she found her husband hanged

She had left the house through a 'self-locking' side door, and found she was locked out when she returned, coroner Rheinberg heard.

Mrs Speed slept in the car before attempting to gain entry to the house again the following morning.

After getting some sleep in the vehicle she told the hearing she woke up at about 6am and went to the outside bathroom.

She said she noticed some shed keys missing which were usually stored there and went to the shed to see if Gary was there, before moving to the garage.

'Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it' - Louise Speed on her marriage

The widow broke down in tears as she described walking to the rear of the of the house and seeing her husband's body suspended on stairs from through the garage window.

After a brief pause to recover her composure, Mrs Speed said: 'I could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step.'

She said she then woke their two teenage sons to open up the house and called the emergency services.

On their advice, she cut her husband to the ground as paramedics were dispatched to the luxury £1.5million home near Chester on November 27.


Last moments: Louise Speed, pictured with her husband last year, cut her husband down after her teenage sons let her back into the house

The couple had spent their last evening together at a dinner party at a friend's house where Mr Speed and the other men had jumped into the swimming pool.

Mr Rheinberg described their behaviour as being 'over-boisterous' but Mrs Speed said that was 'quite normal' and said the evening had been 'all good fun'.

The couple had arranged to leave their car at the house because they planned to drink, and were taken home at around 12.45am by a pre-arranged taxi. But shortly after they returned home the couple had 'an exchange of words about something'.

When asked by Mr Rheinberg if there had been 'some degree of stress with the relationship at this time', she agreed and said there had been 'ups and downs' in their marriage.

Mrs Speed said her husband was forced to spend a lot of time away from home as Wales manager.

Wearing a grey trouser suit and pattern scarf, Mrs Speed said management and coaching, first with Sheffield United and then Wales, had put 'something of a strain on him'.

The Welsh role was supposed to be part-time but he was spending 'more time there (at work) than the 'family man' thought he would.

Mrs Speed agreed that 'for both of us it was difficult', with periods travelling abroad adding to his 'separation' from his family.

The coroner asked: 'Would it be fair to say there was some degree of stress with the relationship at this time?' and Mrs Speed agreed.


Row: Louise Speed left the family home, pictured, near Chester, and went for a drive after a row Hours later she discovered her husband hanged in the garage

She added: 'Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it.'

Speaking in hushed tones, she added: 'He was a somewhat closed character.

'He liked to take on board everyone else's problems and try to help but was not one to open up himself. He was a very private person in a very public role.'

The day before he died, the 42-year-old former footballer had appeared happy and optimistic during an appearance on the BBC1 show Football Focus.

Dan Walker, the presenter of Football Focus, spent four hours on and off camera with Speed the day before he died and he said he was left stunned by the tragedy.

Speaking in the days after the death, he said Speed had been 'as bubbly as I have known him...It's awful to think that someone who was so gifted and so well liked with the rest of his life to look forward to has been so cruelly removed.'

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer told the inquest that the death of his friend made no sense.


Final hours: Gary Speed appears on the BBC's Football Focus with Gary McAllister on November 26, broadcast from its studios in Salford, hours before he was discovered dead

He said Speed did not appear to be worried about anything when they last met, just hours before his former team-mate was found dead.

In a written statement, Mr Shearer, who did not appear at the inquest in person, said they were good friends and told how their families had enjoyed holidays together.

When they met up they 'let off steam and really enjoyed each other's company', he said.

On their most recent holiday, in August last year, Mr Shearer said Mr Speed was 'more relaxed this year than I have ever seen him'.

He added that he was aware of a 'couple of issues' between Mr Speed and his wife on the holiday.

'My response was that is usual in a relationship that is so long-standing,' Shearer said in his statement.

'I think he took the advice well as his words were that he was "going to give it a go'" and "stick in there".

Mr Shearer said he last saw Mr Speed at the BBC studios on the Saturday before he died.

'He seemed fine, laughing and joking,' he added.

The pair talked about playing in an upcoming charity game and planned to meet up with their wives beforehand.

Then they watched the Stoke and Blackburn game together, 'chatting away normally', Shearer said.

'Gary didn't appear worried about anything,' he added. 'Gary seemed to be enjoying his job as Wales manager and coped with the pressure well.

'He knew what it was like beforehand and some part of him liked to work under pressure. When I left the studio on that Saturday I expected to hear from him on the Monday.

'On Sunday I got the phone call telling me Gary had died. I didn't believe it. I was shocked. Gary is probably one of the last people out of my million friends to ever do that.

'I had only seen him the day before and he seemed fine, we had plans for the following week too. It just didn't and still doesn't make sense to me.'

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  • 5 years later...

Gary Speed was one of four players from Barry Bennell’s junior football teams who killed himself in later life after being coached by the man now charged with multiple sex offences against young footballers, the jury at Bennell’s trial was told.

Speed, the former Wales manager, hanged himself in November 2011, aged 42. One of Bennell’s victims whom he admitted abusing in 1998 told the court that he knew other boys from the same teams who had been left destitute, suicidal and addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Describing how his own ordeal still haunted him, Bennell’s victim told Liverpool crown court that he was “sick to death” of it still being in his life and told the jury he had wanted to get in touch with Speed’s parents because he had read in the media that they had not been able to get closure as there was no explanation for his death.

“Four people from teams I have played with, with Bennell, have taken their own lives,” he said. “Whether they have taken their lives due to Barry solely I don’t know but all I know is how it’s had an impact on me and how it could impact on other people. When people are breaking down on the phone, when people are on the verge of suicide, when you hear of people who have taken their own lives.”

His evidence came on the same day that another of Bennell’s victims told the court that he believed two key members of staff from Manchester City, including the chief scout Ken Barnes, knew he had been molested but did nothing about it.

The former player, now in his 40s, said he believed Barnes was aware of what Bennell was doing but had not taken any action to stop a man who was later convicted of child-sex offences in England and the US.

The same complainant also named Mike Grimsley, formerly one of the youth-team coaches at Manchester City, as someone he suspected had known that Bennell was abusing him during a four-year ordeal in the 1980s. The victim was aged 11 to 15 at the time and alleges there were over 100 occasions when he was forced to perform sex acts on the man the prosecution describe as a “devious paedophile.” The victim, described by his witness as being “one of Barry’s favourites”, told the jury he wanted the club to accept they were culpable. “I want an apology off Manchester City.”

Barnes died in 2010, aged 81, and had a long association with City, including an 11-year stint as a player, appearing in the 1955 and 1956 FA Cup finals. His family has previously told the Guardian he did not know at the time about Bennell abusing boys.

Grimsley, who coached the boys aged 14 and older at Manchester City, was approached by the Guardian in November 2016 and said he did not know about Bennell’s crimes, saying he was “shocked by it all”.

Now 64, Bennell has admitted one charge relating to the latest former Manchester City player to give evidence – the fifth in the opening six days of the trial – but pleaded not guilty to six other counts involving the same person, including attempted buggery. In total, he has pleaded guilty to seven charges involving three boys but denied 48 counts of sexual offences against 11 alleged victims, from 1979 to 1991.

According to the latest man to give evidence, Bennell had “hundreds of boys” passing through his home. The first impressions, he said, were that Bennell was “very charismatic, probably the best footballer I’d seen in terms of skills. He’d got all the gear (designer sportswear), everyone was in awe of him and he’d got all the connections – so all very positive.”

Bennell, he said, used to take him to watch Manchester City play at their old Maine Road ground and also bought him gifts as well as regular cinema and theatre trips. The boy was “pretty much living with him”, staying virtually every weekend, but was abused on the first occasion he stayed overnight with him.

According to the former player’s evidence, Bennell would even abuse him while he was driving, on trips to Spain, at the Butlin’s holiday camp in Pwllheli and at what he described as “a dilapidated house in Wales”. On one occasion he recalled being at Bennell’s house when a police car pulled up outside. “I was upstairs. I can remember the knock at the door. He looked out of the window, saw the marked police car and I can remember him saying: ‘Stay up here.’”

Cross-examined by the defence barrister, Eleanor Laws, the man was asked if he had rung the NSPCC line that was set up after Andy Woodward’s interview with the Guardian about being another of Bennell’s victims. He was asked if he had alleged on that call that Crewe Alexandra and Dario Gradi, their former manager, had known about the abuse. The man said he did not recall making any call of that nature. Gradi, who is currently suspended by the Football Association, has always denied any wrongdoing.

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