Turner Prize judge ‘took his own life’

A Turner Prize judge killed himself in a colleague’s garden while dressed in a dinner suit, his inquest heard yesterday.

Michael Stanley, 37, hanged himself after struggling with “relationship and work issues”, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard.

The married father-of-three, who was director of the gallery Modern Art Oxford, suffered from depression and took his own life in the early hours of September 21 last year, coroner Darren Salter ruled yesterday.

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Mr Stanley, described in the proceedings as a workaholic, was discovered in the garden of colleague Verity Slater shortly after midday on the Friday.

In a statement read to the inquest Ms Slater, a gallery arts manager, said she agreed to let Mr Stanley feed her cat and look after her house in Adelaide Street, Jericho, Oxford, while she was on holiday as he needed “a little bit of head space”. Ms Slater said when she gave him her keys he “seemed normal, a little tired but there was nothing unusual about his manner”. She added: “He was a private person. He didn’t share details about his private life.”

Rigor mortis had set in by the time police community support officers arrived so they did not attempt to resuscitate him.

PCSO Thomas Baker said: “He was wearing a dinner suit with a black satin stripe down the side.”

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Mr Stanley’s widow, Carrie, whom he had been with for 20 years, said he told her he “needed some space away and moved to Verity’s house and I was supportive of this because I wanted him to get better”.

The inquest heard Mr Stanley, of Orchard Close, Witney, Oxford, had seen a psychotherapist and been treated by the community mental health team.