Suicide verdict in popular barber Stuart Matthews inquest
A POPULAR and much-loved 31-year-old hairdresser killed himself at the home he shared with his fiancée.
Stuart Matthews, the owner of Man About Town barbers in New London Road, Chelmsford, was found dead at his home in Falcons Mead, near Central Park, by a colleague on February 28.
On Monday an inquest into his death said that he had become depressed after a motorcycle injury ten years ago left him in frequent pain.
"This must be really dreadful for you and I would like to take the opportunity to express the court's sympathies to you in these most tragic circumstances," Essex Coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray told a packed courtroom.
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Stuart was in the Royal Marines when he was younger but the bike crash, in November 2001, stopped him from going on tour and left him with limited movement in his left ankle.
"Had he ever said he would take his own life?" the coroner asked his family.
"No. Not to us," Stuart's father Ian replied. "I think this injury got him down," the coroner added, before Mr Matthews confirmed that his son was in "constant pain" after the crash.
"He became very depressed," Stuart's mother told the court.
"He took time out to build up his strength."
As part of this process he travelled the world and took part in thrill-seeking hobbies including skydiving, bungee jumping and deep sea diving.
Stuart's sister Claire Ballard said: "We saw him on that Sunday – we still can't believe it."
In a statement read out to the court her husband, Stuart's brother-in-law, Rob Ballard, said: "As a family we are very thankful for Stuart. He was such a huge part of our lives."
He said that Stuart "lived his life to the full", "developed very meaningful relationships" and that his loss left a "void" in their family.
He couldn't imagine the "devastation and isolation" Stuart felt in his final hours.
After his travels, Stuart started Man About Town barbers and quickly found a loyal customer base.
This was thanks in part to what many people have called Stuart's 'infectious personality', and his beloved bulldog Winnie, which used to sit in the shop window and amuse people with her animated expressions.
Last year he cut the hair of pop stars like Professor Green, Mark Ronson and Olly Murs at Chelmsford's V Festival and just before his death was sent to the Big Brother house to spruce up the contestants' looks.
A postmortem examination revealed that Stuart had no drugs or alcohol in his body.
Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of suicide but added that he was not in his right mind when he hanged himself.
"I've come to the conclusion that Stuart intended to take his own life. He took a deliberate action."
His legacy will live on though as his colleagues have kept the barber shop open in his memory.