Mystery over hanging death of South Normanton man

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A SOUTH Normanton man found hanged at work had ‘everything to live for’, an inquest was told on Friday

Mystery surrounds the death of metal worker Craig Ballard (31), who ran a business on Pye Bridge industrial estate, making items such as gates and railings.

Mr Ballard had been plagued by debt problems and he was getting divorced - but business was improving and he had a new relationship.

His marriage to Nadine Ballard came under scrutiny during the inquest at Chesterfield.

Mrs Ballard, of Victoria Street, said they began to grow apart last year and the marriage became ‘hollow’.

He encouraged her to see other men and, although she met some, she did not sleep with anyone else until after they separated in April and he moved in with his parents on South Street.

“I would have preferred him to stop me meeting anyone else because I loved him. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

“I hoped we could have remained together once the debts had been sorted,” said Mrs Ballard, who last saw him on 26th May.

Mr Ballard was found hanged on the morning of 3rd June by cablers Brian Spencer and Vincent Marshall, business partners working in an adjoining unit.

His van was outside his unit but there was no sound inside the premises and the doors were bolted from the inside. They managed to enter the building and found his body.

Mr Marshall believed Mr Ballard was troubled by the divorce but tried to hide it.

Mr Ballard’s father, Chris Ballard, told the inquest a message referring to Mrs Ballard had been left on a notice board in the unit.

He said: “The ink was running as if it was the last thing he did. It’s very tragic what’s happened.

“It’s such a waste. If he had just spoken to us about it, but he didn’t.”

Mr Ballard’s landlord, Ken Goodwin, said he was honest, hard-working and very popular, adding: “On his notice board he had 16-20 jobs. His work was excellent and, on the business side, things were improving greatly.”

Mr Ballard had started a new relationship with Nicole Rogers, of Sandiacre. She told police: “He was generally a happy person and he never spoke about harming himself.”

He left her home on 2nd June after staying the night. “He said he loved me and we kissed and he left,” stated Ms Rogers, who tried to contact him by phone that night and the next morning without success.

Deputy North Derbyshire Coroner Nigel Anderson said: “It’s clear he had money problems exacerbated by work problems and this had led to domestic problems - but he had everything to live for.

“Business was improving, he had a new girlfriend he was looking forward to seeing and he had been talking to his mother about arrangements for his father’s 60th birthday.”

Mr Anderson recorded an open verdict, saying: “It’s hard to know what was in his mind.”