Anorak | Gary Speed’s accidental death – coroner sticks to the facts

Gary Speed’s accidental death – coroner sticks to the facts

by | 30th, January 2012

SO. Why did Gary speed kill himself? Was it wilful? Was it an accident that he died? We don’t know.

The Leveson Inquiry into media standards and phone hacking debates caused the story of Gary Speed to be glossed over by the tabloids. The talk was of depression – although we heard no record of Speed being a sufferer. The therapy industries milked the death of the Wales manager, the PFA produced a glamorous booklet, and current and former players orchestrated their grief on twitter and in newspaper columns. The Daily Star wondered how many more footballers would die – turning the game into a death cult.

The Times was one of the few voices of dissent in the mainstream media, asking in a headline: “MYSTERY OVER MANAGER’S DEATH.” How Times’ hacks must have longed for their sister organ the News of The World to do what it did and rake over the ashes. But the NoW was dead. The media was being watched. Any story on Speed could wait.

There was chatter and more chatter. As we said, to his friends, Speed’s suicide would always be inexplicable. But to the rest of us it’s just a sad story. We want to know why he died because we’re nosy and curious and want to understand. The media knows its job. It was softly tapping on the Speeds’ front door. Would Louise Speed feel a need to speak with them and offer an insight into her husband’s death?

We waited and now she speaks. The Mail writes:

Speed’s tearful widow reveals she stormed out of their house after row and spent night in the car before she found him hanging in garage. The widow of former Wales manager Gary Speed today admitted that she stormed out of their house after an argument and spent the night in the car hours before he was found dead.

Admitted? The Mail is swift to employ the language of accusation to describe Mrs Speed. The paper laces the story with a whiff of something salacious. The few details are being factionalised.

Louise Speed, 40, made the revelation during the inquest into the former footballer’s death at Warrington Town Hall in Cheshire.

So. Mrs Speed is not speaking to the media. Mrs Speed is just helping the inquest, as she must.

Says she:

“We walked in the house and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing. I suggested I would go for a drive. He blocked the back door and said “You are not going anywhere”. I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes. Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think.”

She adds:

“Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it”

She saw her husband:

“I could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step.”

The Mail adds:

The couple had spent their last evening together at a dinner party at a friend’s house where Mr Speed and the other men had jumped into the swimming pool. Mr Rheinberg [coroner] described their behaviour as being ‘over-boisterous’ but Mrs Speed said that was ‘quite normal’ and said the evening had been “all good fun”.

The couple had arranged to leave their car at the house because they planned to drink, and were taken home at around 12.45am by a pre-arranged taxi. But shortly after they returned home the couple had ‘an exchange of words about something’.

Mrs Speed adds:

“He liked to take on board everyone else’s problems and try to help but was not one to open up himself. He was a very private person in a very public role.”

She recalls a text message to her in which Gary Speed talked about taking his own life – but soon after he “dismissed it“, saying that he was “excited” about the future with his wife and two sons.

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg considers the matter. He rules that Gary Speed died from hanging. He adds that “the evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental”.

The Mirror puts it:

Mr Rheinberg said, in a narrative verdict, that the football manager may have “nodded off” while sitting with cable around his neck on the stairs in his garage.

The Times was right – it is a mystery. Will the tabloids pursue the story and dig into Gary Speed’s life? With few facts, will rumour fill the gap where once tabloid reporting would have been? And we ask again: do we have any right to know?

Posted: 30th, January 2012 | In: Sports Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink