Helium suicide man bound hands

A MAN who meticulously planned his own death bound his hands together with tape to ensure he could not have a last-minute change of heart.

Robert Newman, 25, was said to have undergone a subtle personality change since a gunshot incident a year ago left him in hospital.

On Boxing Day, after enjoying what his family described as a happy and relaxed festive season, Mr Newman was found dead in his bedroom.

He was wearing a surgical mask attached by a plastic tube to a cylinder of helium gas which he had bought days earlier, telling the saleswoman it was to inflate 600 balloons for a big party.

A Sheffield inquest heard that the forklift truck driver had gone to great lengths to guarantee he would succeed in committing suicide.

He had placed the surgical mask on his face, then taped his hands together behind his back to ensure he would not be able to remove the mask feeding him the suffocating gas.

Mr Newman lived with his sister, Janet Newman-Grubb, and brother-in-law, Stephen Grubb, at their home in Well Green Road in the Stannington area of the city.

In a statement Mrs Newman-Grubb said she knew her brother had been prescribed anti-depressants in the past.

But his demeanour changed after an unexplained gunshot incident in April which put him in hospital for 10 days with stomach wounds.

"He became a different person," she said. "Prior to that he had always planned for the future, particularly in regard to his finances. Afterwards his attitude changed and he seemed to live from day to day."

She said that on Boxing Day she assumed he was having a long lie-in and did not go into his room until the afternoon.

"He was lying in the opposite direction to which he usually lies. Then I remember seeing Robert had a surgical mask over his face. It was linked by a plastic tube to a cylinder by his bed.

"I recall touching him and realising he was cold. It was clear he was already dead."

The inquest was told that a few days earlier Mr Newman had rung a local supplier and said he needed helium to blow up 600 balloons for a party. He collected the gas cylinder in his car, paying a total of 150, then asked his cousin to help him put it in his bedroom, explaining he was storing it for a friend.

He bought a mask and connecting tube from a chemist in Sheffield city centre.

Coroner Chris Dorries, rec-ording a suicide verdict, said it was the first time in a dozen years that he heard of someone taking their own life with helium.

But he told Mr Newman's sobbing parents that their son's intent was clear as he had obviously bought the gas and mask and left a note directing how his finances should be managed.

lyn.barton@ypn.co.uk