Complaints drove Wiltshire police chief David Ainsworth to suicide
A senior policeman under investigation for sexist remarks was facing 26 complaints from 13 different women before he killed himself, it was revealed yesterday.
A coroner yesterday ruled that David Ainsworth, 49, the former deputy chief constable of Wiltshire Police, killed himself, after he was found hanged in the garage of his home.
The £110,000-a-year officer – who dreamt of leading his force and a knighthood – allegedly told a woman “nice buttons” while looking at her shirt, in one of the claims.
Wiltshire coroner David Ridley yesterday ruled DCC Ainsworth did commit suicide at his cottage in Potterne, Wiltshire, on March 22 – six months after the allegations came to light.
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The coroner said he was satisfied that all welfare arrangements had been put in place by Wiltshire Police and they had focused on addressing the officer’s needs.
He said there was nothing to indicate that police and health professionals knew or ought to have known that there was an immediate risk to his life.
After the verdict, Chris Hoare, chairman of Wiltshire Police Authority, said there were up to 13 potential victims of DCC Ainsworth and the claims were still being investigated.
He said: “Further to the coroner’s verdict, our sincere and heartfelt thoughts and sympathies are with David’s family, partner Joanna and friends.
“This has been an exceptionally difficult period for all concerned, not only for David’s family, partner and friends, but also for many within our organisation.
“We note that the coroner recognised that we had put in place comprehensive welfare arrangements which focused on David’s needs. A good employer has a duty of care to all its employees. They need to feel able to raise concerns – and know they will be dealt with.
“Thirteen members of staff raised a total of 26 individual allegations which were being investigated by an outside force at the time of David Ainsworth’s tragic death.
“The staff and managers who came forward did so bravely, rightly and properly. They will continue to receive our full support.”
After the allegations came to light, Mr Ainsworth was removed from front-line duties and put on secondment winding down the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.
As the investigation widened to examine Mr Ainsworth’s conduct during his time in Kent and he discovered statements had been taken from around 50 colleagues, his mood darkened.
Mr Ainsworth was eventually signed off work, having been prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping tablets by his GP.
His girlfriend Jo Howes, with whom he lived, told the inquest how the investigation, which was conducted by officers from South Wales Police, affected him.
“He felt abandoned by a police service he devoted his life to,” she said.