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Steven Morris and agencies, Tuesday 12th June 2012 17:44
A deputy chief constable found hanged as he was being investigated over his treatment of women officers had realised shortly before his death that he had "hurt" colleagues, his inquest has heard.
David Ainsworth told a psychologist that it had dawned on him that his behaviour had upset other people and he was saddened by what had happened.
The inquest heard on Tuesday that Ainsworth, who faced a string of allegations of misconduct, had been researching methods of committing suicide on his personal computer up until the day before he died.
Outside the coroner's court, Unison said it was working with women who had allegedly been harassed by Ainsworth and called for an inquiry into the handling of the matter.
Ainsworth, who spent the last two years of his life serving with Wiltshire police and before that worked for 22 years for Kent constabulary, was found hanged in the garage of his cottage.
Max Kite, a clinical psychologist working with Wiltshire police, said that shortly before his death in March last year Ainsworth had said he had realised that he had hurt people.
Kite said: "For the first time he was aware – it had dawned on him – that he had hurt a number of people by his behaviour. He acknowledged his behaviour had caused hurt to other people and he was very sad about that."
Lynne Owens, the chief constable of Surrey police, spoke to Ainsworth about the inquiry around a month before his death. She said: "He thought the investigation was an opportunity to – in his words not mine – get rid of him out of Wiltshire. In a telephone conversation he said: 'I have got to find a way out of this – and I think I know how. Things would be better off if I wasn't there.'"
Brian Moore, who was chief constable in Wiltshire at the time and now heads the UK Border Force, told the inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, that Ainsworth had received support during the inquiry and he did not realise he had thought of harming himself.
He said: "We were looking at the welfare arrangements of everyone – from David to the other people involved in the investigation. We held board meetings to discuss David's welfare.
"No colleagues or members of the Wiltshire team raised that it was on David's mind to harm himself. It was not raised by anybody to the best of my knowledge."
On Monday, Ainsworth's partner, Jo Howes, said he had confessed to thoughts of harming himself. She told the inquest: "David was very distressed and outlined why he thought he had nothing left to live for. He thought his employer was gunning for him and he did not know why."
His estranged wife, Emma Ainsworth, said he thought he was going to "lose everything". She said: "He did not sound optimistic – he said things were really bad and he needed to protect our assets. He thought there would be some civil cases against him and he thought we could lose everything."
Coroner David Ridley will deliver his verdict on Wednesday.
Outside the inquest, Unison demanded a full investigation into the police handling of the case. It said it was working with some women who had been affected by Ainsworth's alleged behaviour.