Coroner says no one on trial over death of Sutherland


FORMER OLYMPIC boxer Darren Sutherland told a psychologist days before he was found dead at his flat that he wanted to go home to Dublin, pull up the bedclothes and be looked after by his mother, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.

Boxing manager Frank Maloney will today give evidence to Croydon coroner’s court and respond to allegations that the boxer was frightened of him, and was afraid that Mr Maloney would destroy his life if Mr Sutherland quit boxing.

In a series of Twitter messages yesterday, Mr Maloney declared: “What a witch-hunt going on instead of trying to find the real reason he died . . . I have nothing to hang my head in shame [for].”

After learning of the tweets yesterday, coroner Roy Palmer said: “No one is on trial in a coroner’s court. Lots of evidence has been given, some apparently critical of Mr Maloney. He will have every opportunity to give evidence and can counter what has been said.”

Mr Sutherland, who died on September 14th, 2009, went to see psychologist Michele Roitt on September 9th. Ms Roitt said Mr Sutherland was “looking down a lot, he looked uncomfortable. He came with his mother and looked to her, rather than me.”

Mr Sutherland’s desire for his mother’s presence was “unusual and relatively rare”, she said. “I saw it as a sign of his close attachment to his mother and that he was relatively immature and insecure.”

He was extremely concerned about an injury underneath his eye sustained in a boxing match in June, she said, adding that it was “quite shocking and alarming” to him to be concerned about “his physical intactness”.

The boxer had said that he “thought he was self-obsessed” and thought too much about himself and that he had “become increasingly mistrustful of the motivation of girls who were interested in him”.

Barrister Michael Topolski questioned her decision to give “a vulnerable patient” a report describing him as moderately-severely clinically depressed, rather than sending it to his doctor, but she said that he could not remember his GP’s name.

The information would not have come as a shock to Mr Sutherland, she added. She had told him during their 90-minute meeting that this was her belief – a fact supported by a text message from his telephone records.

“He talked about not being able to continue carrying on like this. He said: ‘What I really want to do is go back home to Dublin and pull up the covers and have my mum look after me’,” she said.

She had not felt then that he was suicidal, though she was sufficiently concerned to discuss his case with a consultant psychiatrist immediately afterwards.

He had asked for the report to be sent to him by email.

With hindsight, she would have changed her description of him to severely depressed. “He felt isolated and vulnerable and not able to cope with the demands on him, externally and internally.”

Mr Topolski, who questioned Ms Roitt in the presence of Mr Sutherland’s parents, Anthony and Linda, said: “Darren was therapy-shopping that week. He was looking for help all around the place.”

Ms Roitt rejected Mr Topolski’s criticism that she had breached client confidentiality rules by telling physiologist Joe Dunbar that Mr Sutherland was depressed, saying that Mr Dunbar had “been instrumental” in getting him to come to her.

Det Sgt Lee Dunmore also gave evidence yesterday, saying he stood by his belief that Mr Sutherland had taken his own life because of depression and loneliness.

The inquest continues today.