Engineer shot himself with home made gun

AN East Ardsley man killed himself using a gun and ammunition that he manufactured, a Leeds inquest heard.

A woman walking her dog found Stuart Rankin, 55, from Bradford Road, in bushes at the side of New Lane on December 28 last year.

The court heard how Mr Rankin, a skilled engineer, had shot himself in the head after suffering from depression for many years.

In a statement to the coroner's office, Mr Rankin's wife of nearly 30 years, Joan, said that she left for work around 6.45am on Christmas day. Shortly after she returned between 11am and 12 noon, Mr Rankin said he was going for a walk.

When he didn't return by Boxing Day, she and her two children Scott, aged 22, and Nicola, 25, reported him missing to police.

Det Sgt Jane Lennon of Holbeck CID said that when officers arrived, they found Mr Rankin in a seated position, leaning against a tree, his head bowed, with a hand made gun between his legs.

He had 140 in his pocket, a three-quarter-full bottle of whisky, a diary with address book and a rucksack with personal effects. More ammunition was also found in his pocket.

In the diary and address book, he had written a letter saying that he was going to take his own life and about the gun.

It was believed that Mr Rankin, a skilled precision engineer, had the ability to make his own guns and ammunition.

When his family searched their home later, they found three more fire arms and ammunition.

The court heard how in 1980, Mr Rankin began suffering from depression and was admitted to hospital for 10 days and continued being an outpatient.

In 1982 he took a drugs-overdose and was admitted to Pinderfields Hospital. He was later discharged but continued to take anti-depressants.

A new low hit in 1985 when he was made redundant. He received treatment for his depression at home by a psychiatrist and began a new job.

Once again he was made redundant in 1987 and took a drugs-overdose, leaving a suicide note.

After being found by his wife, paramedics arrived and rushed him to Pinderfields Hospital. Three days later he was transferred to the Roundhay Wing at St James' Hospital, staying for a week before being discharged. He continued to see a psychiatrist at East Ardsley Medical Centre.

In 1992, he was admitted to Pinderfield's after taking another drugs-overdose.

On September 21, 2002, Mr Rankin went for a walk. The family called police thinking he was suicidal. The police found him and arrested him under the Mental Health Act.

He was taken to St James' Hospital and was released on the condition he went to see his psychiatrist.

Ingrid Witton, a consultant psychiatrist, who had treated Mr Rankin on several occasions at East Ardsley Medical Centre, said he was taking anti-depressants as well as disolphram, which prevents the use of alcohol, although he had said that he drank about half a bottle of whisky over two days.

She also said that in 1995 he told her that he held a gun barrel to his head but it misfired and he was uninjured. He believed this was fate and that he was meant to live.

Det Sgt Lennon said that no one else was involved in his death and a post mortem had concluded that he had died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Coroner David Hinchliff, said that despite Mr Rankin's problems, he still managed to keep his job and travelled from his home to Sheffield every day.

"The way he was found and how he died reveals intention. He had a long history of psychological problems.

"We have heard that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and taking all factors into account he had the intention to take his own life."

He recorded the verdict of death by taking his own life.