THE parents of a 40-year-old "Elvis-obsessive" who killed himself on his idol's birthday were shocked to lose their son three years early – because they expected him to end it all at the same age his hero died.
Paul Barkham's father, Donald, and mother, Catherine, of Rayner Road, Brighouse, thought Paul would wait until January 2010, when he would have been 42, before committing suicide – equalling the years notched up by "The King".
He hanged himself in the bathroom of his home, also mirroring the place where his hero died.
An inquest at Halifax town hall heard that Mr Barkham, of Bridge End, Brighouse, developed a fascination for Elvis at an early age and previously toured the country performing tribute acts in the guise of his favourite pop star, moulding his hair into the same trademark quiff.
Afterwards his mother said: "He always said to people that he would kill himself on Elvis's birthday.
"He was so mad about him, we always thought that if he was really going to do that, then he would have waited until he turned 42 so he'd be the same age when he died."
Coroner Roger Whittaker, reading a statement by Donald Barkham, said: "Paul had been a fan of Elvis Presley since his teens and had adopted the same hairstyle, bought two jumpsuits and became a tribute act at venues around the country.
"In a trip to America during Christmas 2006, Paul travelled to Graceland incorporating all of the states associated with Elvis and no doubt enjoyed it immensely."
He added that his son had taken an overdose of 60 painkillers, mixed with alcohol, several years ago.
On January 8 girlfriend Rebecca Nunns, 33, found him hanging from a blue rope tied around a wooden beam between the immersion heater and the shower in the bathroom of the house the couple shared.
The inquest heard that Mr Barkham had become jealous after his fiance, to whom he got engaged last August, received a text from a man with whom she had previously lived.
She said: "We argued but we just had words about it."
In her statement she said she found him and tried to support his body before getting a knife from the kitchen to cut him down.
She called for an ambulance but paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The inquest heard that the father-of-two from Brighouse spent years battling depression after he was left with no sense of taste or smell and deaf in one ear following an assault outside the Commercial pub in Rastrick, where he banged his head.
He was taking antidepressants to help him deal with panic attacks brought on by the assault and suffered from money
Mr Whittaker recorded a suicide verdict.
Mrs Barkham said her son had fallen in love with Elvis when she and her husband took him to see an Elvis tribute act at 16.
She said: "His eyes lit up when he watched that impersonator and he turned to us and said 'I'm going to do that'. He got hooked on Elvis and we bought him a karaoke machine so he could practice.
"He played his first gig impersonating Elvis when he was 21 and he absolutely loved it. His passion for Elvis continued until the very end."