News, Culture & Society

Ice hockey player killed himself weeks after a head injury

An ice hockey player killed himself weeks after banging his head on a goalpost, an inquest heard.

Robert William Craig, 30, a player for Wyre Seagulls, in Blackburn, Lancashire, was found hanged in a disused mill.

The inquest at Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Craig had experienced bouts of ‘unpredictable’ low moods and depression that became more extreme after the accident.

Friends and family were concerned about the former Blackburn Falcons star’s mental well-being after the knock three weeks before his death.

Robert William Craig, 30, in action for his former club the Blackburn Falcons

On several occasions after the hockey accident, friends booked him in for hospital appointments because he had difficulty sleeping and lost appetite, but he chose not to attend any of them.

Robert’s mother Pam Hazel, told the inquest: ‘He had bad moods which were quite scary and we did not know what he wanted or intended to do.’

His sister Emma, said he was ‘unpredictable’ when he went into a bad mood.

His girlfriend, Sadie Alston, who shared a home with him in Edenfield, Lancashire, for three years, said his mood spiralled downward in the days before his death.

And she said it wasn’t the first time he had tried to take his own life.

The day before Mr Craig died he told his girlfriend to move out of their shared home because he did not want her to live there anymore. 

Mr Craig, of Edenfield, was found dead by police in a partially derelict and overgrown mill in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester on June 21 last year.

He had phoned emergency services less than two hours before he died and afterwards received nine calls from police, family and friends who were concerned about his whereabouts. 

Two police officers from Greater Manchester Police, who were on patrol, attended the scene where he died and said there was no response from Robert. The coroner said the police could not have prevented his death because the death occurred in ‘seconds’. 

The inquest, at Burnley Magistrates' Court, pictured, recorded a narrative verdict

The inquest, at Burnley Magistrates’ Court, pictured, recorded a narrative verdict

  Pathologist Dr Richard Prescott, who carried out a post-mortem examination, said tests showed there were no marks of violence or defence wounds to suggest foul play in relation to his death. 

Reading a conclusion that Robert died ‘in his own hands’ from ‘hanging’ and with ‘intent to harm’, coroner James Newman said the call to the emergency services shortly before he died created a ‘kernel of doubt’ over his death and he could not conclude the death was suicide.

He recorded a narrative verdict.

In Robert’s memory a charity match at Blackburn Ice Arena between the Seagulls and the Falcons, from 6pm on April 1, will raise money for mental health charities.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116 123, or visit a local Samaritans branch – see for details.