YORKSHIRE entrepreneur Stephen Battye took his own life after suffering depression which was made worse by repeated infections following knee replacement surgery, an inquest heard.
The 60-year-old company director and vintage car enthusiast died from carbon monoxide poisoning after he was found in his double garage in a 1926 Sunbeam vintage car which was parked alongside an E-type Jaguar with its engine running.
Yesterday an inquest in Bradford was told that Mr Battye had been suffering with depression for some time and, according to his family, also had "financial issues" which were not specified in court.
He had received treatment for depression in the past and had expressed suicidal ideas in 2009 when he was admitted as an in-patient at the Priestley Unit, a mental health unit at Dewsbury and District Hospital. Before that he was treated at a clinic in Harrogate.
The court hearing, which was not attended by any family or friends, was told that the entrepreneur and designer, credited with regenerating two mills in the West Yorkshire textile town of Batley, had suffered complications following two replacement knee operations.
Repeated infections, including one in the summer that required a stay in hospital for a month at the time of his son's wedding in Indonesia, "exacerbated the depression", the inquest heard.
Mr Battye had spoken to his wife Sara about ending his life but had not made any attempt to take his life in the past and she had not taken seriously his talk about suicide, although she had tried to talk to him about it, the hearing was told.
On August 1, the day he was found dead, Mr Battye watched cricket on television at the family home in Upper Batley Low Lane, Batley, which he shared with his wife, daughter and son-in-law.
His son-in-law, Philip Enever, returned home at 2pm where he discovered Mr Battye unresponsive in the vintage Sunbeam car in the fume-filled garage.
He was taken to Dewsbury and District Hospital's Accident and Emergency department but could not be resuscitated.
A post mortem examination revealed that he was suffering from heart disease, which had been a contributory factor in his death from carbon monoxide.
West Yorkshire Coroner Roger Whitaker said Mr Battye had not left a suicide note but he had had conversations with his wife in his final days and over a period of some time.
"I am satisfied that Stephen Paul Battye intentionally took his own life. The cause was inhaling carbon monoxide fumes from his classic vehicles in his garage. Sadly he succumbed to them."
Mr Whitaker added that the evidence suggested that Mr Battye had taken his own life "while the balance of his mind was disturbed".
He said it was clear that Mr Battye was not showing any vital signs of life when he was found in the garage and it was clear that he had died in the car, at home.
Mr Battye, who grew up in Horbury, Wakefield, was famous for owning the landmark Red Brick Mill shopping village in Batley as well as establishing other mill developments in the area.
After leaving school at 15 he enrolled in a course at Batley School of Art & Design and began experimenting with printing on wool.
Mr Battye and a number of friends formed a business, which they called Skopos: which means 'design' and 'intent' in Greek. Skopos – based in another former mill building in Batley – was sold in 1999 for 6m to a London-based investment firm.
He was also known as a vintage car enthusiast and would often drive in rallies. He founded the Yorkshire Motor Museum in October 1993 as part of a regeneration scheme.
He was most proud of the creation of the Red Brick Mill in Batley, which became an interiors outlet.
Mr Battye was also a part owner of the Frontier nightclub in Batley as well as other bars and clubs along Bradford Road, among them The Bank and the former Preston and Jenkinson carpet shop at the junction of Hick Lane.
He was married to Sara and had three children, William, Rosie and Joseph.