Wife of millionaire company director killed herself after complaining about her husband’s golf holiday
The wife of a millionaire company director killed herself by slashing her throat days after taking an overdose in protest at her husband going on a golf holiday, an inquest heard.
Bernadette McConchie, 57, swallowed an overdose while her wealthy husband Neil, 59, was in Portugal.
The school teacher was discharged from hospital a day later and her husband of 35 years flew back home to be with her on April 24 this year.
But an inquest heard that her mental state deteriorated after the failed suicide attempt before she took her own life nine days later on May 2.
Less than a month before she took her own life, Mrs McConchie had started taking a new anti-depressant but the inquest ruled there was no link to her suicide.
Mr McConchie, a former Tesco divisional director, found his wife’s blood-covered body on the kitchen floor of their £700,000 mansion in the village of Milton Malsor, Northants.
He told the inquest at Northampton General Hospital that he had left for a golfing week on April 22 this year.
He said he called his wife – whom he nicknamed ‘Bernie’ – from Portugal on April 24.
In a statement read to the inquest, he said: “I rang at about 6.30pm and got no reply, but then remembered Bernie had dinner guests.
“At about 7.30pm I received a phone call from one of the dinner guests saying Bernie had taken an overdose of prescription medication and was drifting in and out of sleep.
“She was taken to hospital and kept in overnight.”
After his wife was discharged on the morning of April 25 Mr McConchie returned to the UK.
He said: “I flew back from Portugal and arrived at 6pm that evening.
“She was very apologetic and ashamed and seemed extremely agitated.
“She started to avoid contact with neighbours, friends and relatives.”
The inquest heard that Mrs McConchie confessed during a series of subsequent doctor’s appointments that she had taken the overdose because she did not want her husband to go away.
A GP’s report which was read to the inquest said: “She said she took the overdose because she did not want her husband to go off on a golf week.”
The hearing was told that Mrs McConchie became increasingly withdrawn and agitated in the days leading up to her death following the overdose.
On the day of her death the couple, who had recently become grandparents after their son Connor and his wife had a baby, had walked their dogs and had coffee outside a pub.
Mr Conchie said: “We returned about 2.45pm and had a late lunch. After clearing up she took her coffee upstairs with her to watch TV.
“At around 4.30pm I received a phone call from her sister Margaret in Ireland. I went to find Bernie but she wasn’t where I expected.
“She was lying on the kitchen floor covered in blood. She had cut her throat badly.
“I called 999 and tried CPR until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics quickly confirmed that Bernie had died.”
A post-mortem found that Mrs McConchie had died as the result of an open wound to the neck.
Mr McConchie told the inquest his wife had a history of depression and had been on medication since an earlier suicide attempt.
He said: “Twenty-five years ago she took an overdose. It was a total shock to me, we discussed this at length with doctors who said it was a chemical imbalance treatable with prescription drugs.
“They progressively lowered the dosage until it stopped altogether in November 2010.”
Mrs McConchie was prescribed a course of the anti-depressant Seroxat in April 2012.
Despite the timing of the change in medication, the coroner did not link it to her mental state at the time of her death.
Mr McConchie, who met his Irish-born wife in 1975 whilst the pair studied at university in Manchester, paid tribute to her.
He said: “Having been married to Bernie for 35 years I can say that 95 per cent of this time she was happy, bubbly and outgoing and popular with people of all ages.
“She was the sort of person others would bring their problems to. We received almost 200 messages of sympathy, all expressing their complete shock at what had happened.
“Almost without exception, all said what a kind, genuine friend Bernie was. As a mother, grandmother and wife she will be sorely missed and loved forever.
“She was simply irreplaceable.”
Recording a verdict of suicide, Northamptonshire deputy coroner Rodney Haig said: “I am satisfied from both the medical reports, pathological findings and Mr McConchie’s evidence that Mrs McConchie suffered a long and intermittent period of depression which sadly meant that she couldn’t cope with it and she took her own life.”
Mr Haig offered his condolences to Mr McConchie, daughter Maria, 32, and son Connor, 30, who attended the hearing.
Mr McConchie used to be a divisional director for Tesco and is now managing director of Lloyd Fraser, a warehousing and distribution firm he founded in 1987 at a former aerodrome near Lutterworth, Leicestershire.
The company has an annual turnover in excess of £50million and employs 500 people at 20 sites across the country.
Mrs McConchie’s family were too upset to speak after the hearing.