Tragic suicide of top town athlete

John Trelfa
John Trelfa

A POPULAR Scarborough runner hanged himself just hours after surviving a drug and alcohol overdose, a coroner has ruled.

John Trelfa, 49, was found by police suspended from a rope in his loft in December last year.

He was cut down by officers - who had to force their way into the loft - and rushed to Scarborough Hospital where he later died.

An inquest at Scarborough County Court heard Mr Trelfa, of Ridgeway, in Eastfield, had a “schizoid” personality and had previously taken overdoses as a “cry for help”.

Just days before his death, the Scarborough Athletic Club member had absconded from Scarborough Hospital after treatment for an overdose.

The inquest heard from Mr Trelfa’s partner Sharon Bennett.

She said Mr Trelfa, whom she met in the former Criterion pub, in Castle Road, in 1989, had struggled with alcohol problems at the start of their relationship.

She said: “He used to go out on a night and come back at closing time. I found alcohol down chairs and in saucepans, he tried to hide it but still kept a job down.

“He went to Alcoholics Anonymous and came back a totally different person and remained sober for 15 years.”

However, he began drinking once more after the death of his father in 2001.

Miss Bennett added: “He slipped off the precipice and started with depression.

“He would be on a downward spiral and when he was in drink and taking pills I could not get anything coherent out of him. After leaving the hospital he was quite terse and nasty and not his normal self.”

The inquest heard Mr Trelfa, an engineer, went into the loft to be alone and spoke to Miss Bennett, who heard him “pottering about”.

However, the court was told he later barricaded himself in the space by putting weights on to the hatch and then hanged himself.

The inquest also heard from Kate Harrison, who worked as Mr Trelfa’s psychotherapist from October 2010 in one-hour weekly sessions.

She said Mr Trelfa was initially extremely vulnerable but grew in stature after taking part in therapy.

She said: “When I first saw him he told me he had recently taken an overdose but had no intention of self-harming.

“He was unemotional and talked very factually and said he had been depressed but did not offer a particular reason.

“He felt better and more assertive but had a problem with authority figures and sometimes would take two steps forward and one step back.”

The appointments stopped in November last year, but Ms Harrison said she encouraged Mr Trelfa to continue to seek treatment.

She added: “I did not believe it possible for someone with his degree of damage to become so well so quickly. He could appear quite well on the surface but underneath he was deeply disturbed.

“He was very frightened and felt profoundly isolated, even with his family and friends around.”

Deputy coroner John Broadbridge said: “The death of his father was quite an emotive trigger to his general well-being.

“He made cries for help which appear to have been a combination of excess alcohol and pills. It was a history of a troubled background that came to a crisis.

“He was found drinking and incoherent and an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

“Unfortunately he decided that he was going to take matters into his own hands.

“He had previously taken some psychological steps in his life but he had taken overdoses when in drink before.

“On these occasions he had not really intended to end his life but here he had put a weight over the loft hatch.

“I am satisfied one of the key issues was that he was probably floundering as he could not continue therapy.

“He had been confronted by the hospital whereas all he wanted to do was sort out his problems himself.

“This was no longer a cry for help.

“He killed himself.”