FORMER Dewsbury East Labour councillor and Kirklees Mayor Paul Kane was being treated for depression before he committed suicide in November, an inquest was told this week.

Senior Coroner Martin Fleming heard how Mr Kane had seen his doctor suffering from stress, been prescribed medication for depression and to help him sleep, and had suffered a panic attack in the two weeks before his stepson Michael Thornton found him hanging from the loft hatch in the bedroom at his bungalow in Bywell Close.

Post mortem and toxicology reports revealed no evidence of alcohol or other drugs in Mr Kane’s system and Kirklees Police Det Sgt Mike Smith told the inquest no suicide note was left in his “tidily kept” bungalow. Likewise, DS Smith said nothing had been found on his laptops or phones to indicate why he took his life.

His long-standing GP, Dr Hanume Thimmegowda, said in a statement that he had seen the 62-year-old on October 23rd and said “he looked sad, was not sleeping well and was irritable”. It was stated that Mr Kane had said he was not feeling suicidal – something he repeated the following week in another visit to his GP.

However, close friends of Mr Kane, including his girlfriend of the past two years, have criticised the proceedings at Bradford on Monday, saying it “whitewashed” some of the serious issues troubling him, including his attempt to retract his resignation from Kirklees Council a few days after submitting it, and potential evidence of online threats towards him from Labour activist Paul Moore.

The Coroner, Mr Fleming, said Mr Kane had been concerned about a “police investigation”. Shortly before his death the long-serving former councillor had been involved in an altercation with Paul Moore at Chickenley Community Centre over social media posts attacking him. The incident resulted in Moore alleging an assault against him, which Mr Kane denied.

Mr Fleming stated that he had submitted his resignation to Kirklees Council on October 28th, but did not mention his attempt to retract it – something which was turned down by Chief Executive Jacqui Gedman. After the inquest, close friends said that as a councillor, Mr Kane’s relationship with Ms Gedman had “totally broken down” and he saw her decision as being “a chance to get rid of him”.

The Press can also reveal that the day following his death at home in Bywell Close, the former Heavy Woollen Planning chairman was due to give evidence in a fly-tipping case against Dewsbury businessman Tahir Zaman. Mr Kane was being called as a witness by Zaman over the allegations at a mill development in Eastborough.

The trial against Zaman and his two sons at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court was adjourned after Mr Kane’s death and was due to resume at the end of February but was further adjourned because Zaman was out of the country.

At the inquest, Mr Fleming made clear that it would be concerned primarily with the facts of “how” Mr Kane died, and not “why”.

He had spent the previous evening with his girlfriend and work colleague Mira Fadel at her flat in Morley, before returning home. When he failed to answer phone calls and messages the next day, Ms Fidel, plus stepson Michael and Mr Kane’s son James, went to his bungalow at around 5pm.

Michael let himself in, and told the others “Paul’s done something silly,” before returning outside and phoning the emergency services. DS Smith told the inquest there were no signs of any third party involvement, and Mr Fleming recorded a narrative verdict, stating: “This is a case where he (Mr Kane) was suffering from stress and depression and had expressed it to the GP. There’s nothing to suggest he was harbouring intentions to hurt himself in this way. On November 5, 2019, Paul Kane was suffering from depression and intended to take his own life.”

DEWSBURY East Independent councillor Aleks Lukic spoke after the inquest’s conclusion at his frustration at being refused permission by the Coroner to be considered an ‘interested person’ and raise a number of questions.

Mr Lukic told The Press he wanted to raise issues that emerged after Paul Kane’s death, particularly in relation to his relationship with Kirklees Council and other Dewsbury East Labour members. 

He attended the inquest to observe as a member of the public and expressed disappointment at how important matters were apparently glossed over. 

Meanwhile Ms Fadel, whose brother owns the Morley company Alfa Power which Mr Kane was a consultant for, said matters she brought up in her statement to police were completely overlooked.

“Paul was consistently under pressure from Eric Firth and Paul Moore to resign,” she said. “They blamed Paul for Firth losing his Dewsbury East seat (to Aleks Lukic) saying he hadn’t campaigned for him, but in fact he was very ill, he had had major surgery.

“Moore said some very nasty things about Paul on social media. He deleted them when Paul died but I know they were on Paul’s phone and laptop, yet the police never mentioned them in the inquest.

“Now we’ll never know what drove him to this. Firth and Moore hounded him into resigning, but he was much more upbeat after he emailed his retraction. 

“He wanted to keep going until his term of office finished in May, then retire with dignity.

“We had exciting plans to launch a new charity venture inspiring arts projects for local young people. He was devastated when he heard that his resignation wouldn’t be withdrawn.

“He was going to stay at my flat, but was restless and went home. He sent me a text message saying he was fine. But that was the last I heard from him.”

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