Missing sales executive found dead on Ullswater fell

Date: Friday 14th December 2012

A SALES executive reported missing from his home in Scotland was found dead on a hill overlooking Ullswater the following day, an inquest heard.

Two walkers discovered the body of David Bennie about half way up Gowbarrow Fell on the afternoon of 30th January this year. His unlocked car was found parked a short distance away, close to the hamlet of Dockray.

Although there was snow on the ground, 51-year-old Mr. Bennie, a married father-of-two, was not equipped for the chilly conditions. He was fully dressed but was wearing only a flimsy summer jacket and had not taken any warm clothing, food or drink with him on the walk.

An inquest in Kendal on Wednesday was told the cause of his death was hypothermia. However, a police officer who was called to the scene told the hearing that during a search of Mr. Bennie’s vehicle a host of empty and almost empty packets of paracetamol, Anadin and the antidepressant fluoxetine were recovered. Fairly high levels of fluoxetine were found in his system during the post mortem.

It also emerged that just a week before he went missing Mr. Bennie had been treated in hospital, having taken an overdose of medication.

Giving evidence, his wife, Jacqueline, with whom he lived in the Bargeddie area of Glasgow, said his job as a sales executive for a paint manufacturer meant he covered a large area which included the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland and also the north east of England. He spent much of his time driving, which made him tired, while the pressure of work also caused him to become anxious. His anxiety levels had increased during 2011. Even though he had performed very well, Mr. Bennie was concerned that a large contract had been lost. “He didn’t know where he was going to find that business from,” said Mrs. Bennie.

She said her husband had not been well for several years and was “quite poorly” shortly before his death. He was prescribed antidepressants and she confirmed he had been treated in hospital early in 2012 having taken a large amount of tablets.

Mrs. Bennie recalled that she became concerned when her husband whose walking exploits were limited to time with their dog in the local park left their home on 29th January. This prompted her to raise the alarm.

Ian Smith, coroner for South and East Cumbria, recorded an open verdict on Mr. Bennie’s death. He said he could not be absolutely sure there was an intention to commit suicide, and stated: “There is too much uncertainty for me to say for certain that I am sure he deliberately ended his own life.”

l Members of Mr. Bennie’s family expressed concern at the inquest that some personal items from his car including an iPod had not been returned to them. A police officer said some property could still be held in storage and inquiries are to be made.