A retired British Airways captain was found hanged at his home on a millionaires’ estate after he was accused of ‘troubling’ domestic abuse, an inquest heard today.
Former Concorde pilot and BBC composer David Ffoulkes-Williams, 62, was being investigated by police after a new girlfriend, who had moved into his lavish Surrey home, made allegations against him.
Following an ‘unhappy and volatile’ relationship, she reported him to police on numerous occasions and at the time of his death, the pilot of 25 years was under the spotlight of a Surrey police investigation, a coroner heard.
Today neighbours told how police often attended the luxury home following ‘violent arguments’ which could be heard in the road.
As a young man, David Ffoulkes-Williams lost his 19-year-old brother in a horrific car accident and his mother tragically passed away aged just 51 years, as a result of bowel cancer in 1985.
Coroner Jessica Russell-Mitra concluded a verdict of suicide at a Woking, Surrey, inquest. Pictured: HM Coroner’s Court in Woking, Surrey
In the documentary inquest today, assistant Surrey coroner Jessica Russell-Mitra said: ‘A year after his mother died, David’s father Frank re-married and divorced and had a further relationship which troubled David as he felt he was being financially manipulated.
‘His father’s health deteriorated in 2017 and it seemed David was very concerned about this before his death.’
After his military engineer father was moved to a retirement home in 2017, David was seen by a consultant with stress-related symptoms. His father died less than a year after, aged 90 years at his residential home in Bramley House, Westcott, Surrey.
Today, the inquest in Woking, Surrey heard how divorcee Mr Ffoulkes-Williams had met a woman who had a teenage son and they moved into his luxury home, Abinger Field in Sutton Place, Abinger Hammer, near Dorking, in 2014.
‘It was an unhappy and volatile relationship. She made a number of complaints to police about Mr Ffoulkes-Williams and officers were investigating these at the time of his death. David was troubled by the police investigation, according to the notes he left,’ the assistant coroner said.
Ms Russell-Mitra explained that in the ‘suicide’ letters, the 62-year-old suggested he was concerned about being taken advantage of financially, following the situation with his father and ex-partner.
The court heard how just weeks before his sudden death, the retired British Airways captain had visited his GP complaining of anxiety and insomnia and he was prescribed anti-depressant tablets.
When his body was tragically discovered, a friend told a South Central Ambulance paramedic how Mr Ffoulkes-Williams was convinced he had bowel cancer – the disease that killed his mother – and he had disclosed that he did not want to go through the same experience.
The inquest was told that on July 19 2019, friend James Jackson failed to return an ‘urgent’ phone message left by Mr Ffoulkes-Williams the day previously.
Growing increasingly concerned, two days later Mr Jackson visited David’s home on a millionaires estate shared by the likes of wealthy company chief executives and actors including John Gordon-Sinclair.
‘James Jackson saw David’s car in its usual place, all the curtains were closed but his bedroom window was open. He climbed up to the window and found David hanged before he called 999,’ the coroner heard.
Following an investigation, detectives discovered internet searches relating to suicide on Mr Ffoulkes-Williams’ computer.
A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr Michael Hall on his body, concluded he had died as a result of hanging on July 21 2019.
Posting a tribute online, friend James Jackson who discovered the body wrote: ‘Honour means more to man than life. I hope you’re finally at rest, my friend.’
Born in Redhill, Mr Ffoulkes-Williams was a Captain for British Airways and flew planes for over 25 years, the inquest was told. After he retired, the motor sports fanatic composed music for the BBC.
On IMBD, David was recognised as the composer for the 2018 film The Salvation, Connected, A Short Story about Love and At the Edge of Winter.
The ‘talented musician’ – who could play multiple instruments – published some of his pieces on his YouTube channel which included his original music for the BBC series ‘The Desert War.’
Having bought his home on the millionaires’ estate in Surrey in 1996, Mr Ffoulkes-Williams was understood to have married Tina Dennis in 2002 in West Surrey before later divorcing.
Following his tragic death, the home was sold for £1.4million this year.
Neighbour Sarah Trotman said: ‘He lived on the estate for a long time, unfortunately our paths didn’t cross that much other than a wave over the fence every now and again because he was a pilot and travelled a lot and I had three small children.
‘He seemed very nice, he was our neighbour next door. He was a single bloke and we were a family with children, we did see a woman come and go for a while.’
Assistant coroner Ms Russell-Mitra said: ‘David had a history of depression, he had written letters which indicate this and he had his affairs in order prior to his death.
‘In his letters he said he attempted self-harm, he clearly had suicidal thoughts at the time of writing those letters.
‘I have read the letters and notes he left relating to the last few years of his life and the difficulties he faced and the feelings he had about it and I have heard about the increasing unhappiness in which he sought help from his GP receiving anti-depressants and sleeping tablets.
‘David was obviously paranoid and concerned in relation to an ongoing police investigation.
‘On July 21 2019, a friend attended David’s home address due to concerns he had as he had last heard from him on July 18. The friend entered a locked house through the window and found him deceased.
‘He died as a result of hanging with the intention of ending his life. This was an intentional act by him, in light of the evidence I conclude his death was as a result of suicide,’ the coroner said.
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