Summary:

First paragraph reads:  "A taxi driver committed suicide by setting himself on fire, an inquest concluded."

Paragraphs four & five read:  "Mr Smith's wife Fern had been married to him for 41 years and they had three children."

"She said he had been taking medication for depression but she believed his condition was improving."


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Taxi driver committed suicide by setting himself on fire

Last updated: 13/10/2009 11:01:00
By ADAM LAZZARI

A TAXI driver committed suicide by setting himself on fire, an inquest concluded.

Terence Smith's badly burned dead body was discovered on a farm track close to the A1421 Haddenham Road, Witcham on March 19.

The 62-year-old from St Andrews Close, Sutton drove a diesel taxi but was seen buying a can of unleaded petrol from the nearby Jet Garage at Witcham Toll the day before.

Mr Smith's wife Fern had been married to him for 41 years and they had three children.

She said he had been taking medication for depression but she believed his condition was improving.

It was said at his inquest in Ely on Friday that doctors had found no reason to believe his mental health was deteriorating.

The last time Mrs Smith saw her husband was at around 7.30am on March 18.

She said: "He dropped me off in Ely for work. He was due to pick me up at 4pm that day but didn't turn up."

Mrs Smith made several attempts to contact her husband and was told by police the following morning that he had been found dead.

She said: "I am at a total loss to find a rational explanation for this. The last time I saw him he looked happy and he was making jokes with the other taxi drivers.

"When I went looking for him villagers in Sutton said they saw him waving as he always does.

"He was friends with an old man from Haddenham and used to cut his garden and bring him cigarettes - he was such a generous man.

"As I was looking for my husband I discovered this old man had recently died. This would have upset him."

She added: "He had been taking pain-killers for pain in his arm and shoulder. Sometimes he didn't read the dosage properly and I had to tell him to not take too many."

Mr Smith's body was discovered by retired police chief inspector Lewis Dunkerley, from Staffordshire, at around 9.15am on March 19.

He pulled over to a layby on the A1421 relive himself and noticed Mr Smith's unoccupied silver Toyota taxi.

He walked down a nearby farm track and found Mr Smith's badly charred body with a petrol can by his head.

Home Office pathologist, doctor Nathaniel Cary concluded that Mr Smith's death was caused by the inhalation of smoke and burning.

He said: "This sounds like a horrific way to die, but Mr Smith would have died very quickly."

Coroner William Morris returned a verdict of suicide.