Gary Speed inquest: Wife slept in car hours before his death

Speed's widow admits to sleeping in car following 'words' hours before Wales manager hanged himself

Gary Speed's widow admitted that she stormed out of their house after an argument and spent the night in the car hours before he was found hanged.

Louise Speed, 41, made the revelation during the inquest into the former Wales manager's death at Warrington Town Hall in Cheshire.

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg returned a narrative verdict and ruled there was not enough evidence to say it was intentional. However, Speed, 42, had sent a text to his wife in the days before he died that had 'talked in terms of taking his life'.

Grief: Louise Speed, 40, pictured today leaving the inquest, revealed how she left the family home after a row and could not get back in. She discovered her husband Gary hanged the next morning

Grief: Louise Speed, 40, pictured today leaving the inquest, revealed how she left the family home after a row and could not get back in. She discovered her husband Gary hanged the next morning

Mrs Speed said they had 'had words' the night before he was found hanging in the
garage and she had walked out. She said: 'We walked in the house and we had an exchange of
words about something and nothing.'

She added: 'I can't even remember what it was.'

'I suggested I would go for a drive. He blocked the back door and said “You are not going anywhere”.

'I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes. Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think.'

She drove to the 'top of the road' – but her husband did not respond to her call when she tried to ring. After driving back to the house he again did not reply so she slept in the car because she had locked herself out.

'I
could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step' –
Louise Speed recalls the moment she found her husband hanged

After getting some sleep she woke up at about 6am and went to the outside bathroom.

She said she noticed some shed keys
missing which were usually stored there and went to the shed to see if
Gary was there, before moving to the garage.

The widow broke down in tears as she
described walking to the rear of the of the house and seeing her
husband's body suspended on stairs from through the window.

'I can't even remember what it was': Mrs Speed, 40, told the coroner yesterday that they had a petty argument

'I can't even remember what it was': Mrs Speed, 40, told the coroner yesterday that they had a petty argument

After a brief pause to recover her
composure, Mrs Speed said: 'I could see him on the stairs. His toes were
in contact with the step.'

She said she then woke their two teenage sons to open up the house and called the emergency services.

On their advice, she cut her husband to the ground as paramedics were dispatched to the home
near Chester on November 27.

The inquest heard that investigators believed Mr Speed had been sitting
on the stairs in his garage with the ligature around his neck.

Mr Rheinberg said: 'It may have been that this was some sort of dramatic gesture, not
normally in Mr Speed's character, but nonetheless, a possibility.'

Mr Rheinberg added that Mr Speed may have sat there for some time
and “nodded off to sleep” with the cable around his neck.

The couple had spent their last
evening together at a dinner party at a friend's house where Mr Speed
and the other men had jumped into the swimming pool.

Mr Rheinberg described their behaviour
as being 'over-boisterous' but Mrs Speed said that was 'quite normal'
and said the evening had been 'all good fun'.

Gary Speed's mother Carol

Roger Speed, Gary's father, at the inquest today

Inquest: Gary Speed's mother Carol arrives at the hearing, left, and his father, Roger, can be seen at the inquest, right

Drawing from the Gary Speed inquest; Louise Speed

Gary Speed inquest; Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg

These court drawings from the inquest show Louise Speed in tears while giving evidence and Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg, who returned a narrative verdict

The couple had arranged to leave
their car at the house because they planned to drink, and were taken
home at around 12.45am by a pre-arranged taxi. But shortly after they
returned home the couple had 'an exchange of words about something'.

When asked by Mr Rheinberg if there had been 'some degree of stress with the relationship at this
time', she agreed and said there had been 'ups and downs' in their marriage.

Mrs Speed said her husband was forced to spend a lot of time away from home as Wales manager.

Mrs Speed said management and coaching, first with
Sheffield United and then Wales, had put 'something of a strain on him'.

The Welsh role was supposed to be
part-time but he was spending 'more time there (at work) than the
'family man' thought he would.

Mrs Speed agreed that 'for both of us
it was difficult', with periods travelling abroad adding to his
'separation' from his family.

The coroner asked: 'Would it be fair
to say there was some degree of stress with the relationship at this
time' and Mrs Speed agreed.

She added: 'Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it.'

Last moments: Louise Speed, pictured with her husband last year, cut her husband down after her teenage sons let her back into the house

Last moments: Louise Speed, pictured with her husband last year, cut her husband down after her teenage sons let her back into the house

Speaking in hushed tones, she added: 'He was a somewhat closed character.

'He liked to take on board everyone else's problems and try to help but was not one to open up himself. He was a very private person in a very public role.'

Four days before he died, Gary Speed had text his wife talking 'in terms of taking his life', the inquest heard.

But
Mrs Speed said that immediately after the reference to suicide in their
text exchange, Speed began referring immediately to 'moving forward and
how me and the boys were so important to him'.

She said he had never spoken in that way (about self-harm) before and had never previously harmed herself.

The day before he died, the 42-year-old former
footballer had appeared happy and optimistic during an appearance on
the BBC1 show Football Focus.

In
a statement read out at the inquest, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer said
his friend's death made no sense as Mr Speed did not appear to be
worried about anything when they last met at the BBC studios hours
before his death.

He said: 'He seemed fine, laughing and joking. Gary didn't appear worried about anything.

'Gary seemed to be enjoying his job as Wales manager and coped with the pressure well.

'He knew what it was like beforehand and some part of him liked to work under pressure.

Row: Louise Speed left the family home, pictured, near Chester, and went for a drive after a row Hours later she discovered her husband hanged in the garage

Row: Louise Speed left the family home, pictured, near Chester, and went for a drive after a row Hours later she discovered her husband hanged in the garage

ALAN SHEARER'S STATEMENT

Gary Speed confided to Alan Shearer that his marriage was in difficulties but he had vowed to 'stick in there', the inquest heard.

The former England striker (pictured), a close friend of Speed, had bumped into him at the BBC studios in Salford hours before he died.

Shearer said in a statement read to the coroner that the Wales manager's marriage issues were nothing out of the ordinary in a long-term relationship.

The Shearers and the Speeds had previously holidayed together.

Shearer said in the statement: 'Gary said there were a couple of issues between him and Louise.

'I said that is usual in a relationship that longstanding.

'He said: “I'm going to give it a go and stick in there.”

'Louise seemed relaxed and it seemed to me it was just being worked through.'

'When I left the studio on that Saturday I expected to hear from him on the Monday. On Sunday I got the phone call telling me Gary had died.

'I didn't believe it. I was shocked. Gary is probably one of the last people out of my million friends to ever do that.

'I had only seen him the day before and he seemed fine, we had plans for the following week too. It just didn't and still doesn't make sense to me.'

He added that their families had
enjoyed holidays together and on their most recent holiday, in August last year, Mr
Speed was “more relaxed this year than I have ever seen him”.

He added that he was aware of a “couple of issues” between Mr Speed and his wife on the holiday.

He said: “My response was that is usual in a relationship that is so
long-standing. I think he took the advice well as his words were that he
was 'going to give it a go' and 'stick in there'.”

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg ruled that there is no evidence to suggest Gary Speed intended to take his own life.

In
a narrative verdict, he gave the cause of death as hanging but said
'the evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was
intentional or accidental'.

In
a statement read out after the inquest, Mr Speed's family said the day
of his death was the 'worst day of our lives' but his memory 'shines
brightly in our thoughts'.

'Gary’s death and the manner of it,
made Sunday 27 November 2011 the worst day of our lives,' it read.

'Throughout
the nine weeks since, there have been some very dark moments, which we
have all had to find our own different ways to endure.

'Now, we have to adapt to the future
without a husband, a father, a brother and a son; but Gary’s memory
shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the
wonderful times we shared with him and the deep love and affection he
offered so freely within our close knit family.'

Mr Speed's mother, Carol Speed, told how he 'loved his sons completely' but described him as a 'man of few words'.

Speaking
about his appointment as Wales manager, Mrs Speed said: 'Gary said
there was no greater honour than to manage his country in the game he
loved.

'Although Gary enjoyed his job he did not enjoy the high profile nature of it.

'Gary always said he was not a celebrity.'

Final hours: Gary Speed appears on the BBC's Football Focus next to Gary McAllister on November 26, broadcast from it's studios in Salford, hours before he was discovered dead

Final hours: Gary Speed appears on the BBC's Football Focus with Gary McAllister on November 26, broadcast from its studios in Salford, hours before he was discovered dead

She said her son's death left herself and her husband in 'complete shock'.

'Looking back, Gary was always a glass-half-empty person, certainly no optimist,' her statement added.

Dan Walker, the presenter of Football
Focus, spent four hours on and off camera with Speed the day before he
died and he said he was left stunned by the tragedy.

Speaking
in the days after the death, he said Speed had been 'as bubbly as I
have known him…It's awful to think that someone who was so gifted and
so well liked with the rest of his life to look forward to has been so
cruelly removed.'

Tributes
to Speed poured in from around the world after news of his death
spread. A public memorial service to celebrate his life is planned to
take place later this year.

The Football Association of Wales has also said that the national team’s game against Costa Rica on
February 29 will be dedicated to their former manager.

Distinguished professional: Gary Speed celebrates scoring for Bolton with a free kick against Liverpool in 2006

Gary Speed challenges for a header against Arsenal in the late 1990s

Distinguished professional: Gary Speed celebrates scoring for Bolton with a free kick against Liverpool in 2006 and, right, he challenges for a header against Arsenal in the late 1990s

The FAW appointed Chris Coleman as the
new manager of Wales earlier this month after what they admitted had
been 'a very difficult period' following Speed's death.

Speed
played for Leeds United, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield
United and Everton during a distinguished football career.

He
was named Wales manager in December 2010 in a surprise announcement.

Under his guidance the national team had turned the corner and had been
playing some of their best football for years.

SPEED FAMILY STATEMENT ISSUED THROUGH THE LEAGUE MANAGERS ASSOCIATION

'Gary’s death and the manner of it, made Sunday 27th November 2011 the worst day of our lives. Throughout the nine weeks since, there have been some very dark moments, which we have all had to find our own different ways to endure.

'Now, we have to adapt to the future without a husband, a father, a brother and a son; but Gary’s memory shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the wonderful times we shared with him and the deep love and affection he offered so freely within our close knit family.

'Thankfully, out of tragedy some good often emerges, and we feel blessed to have such true friends who are helping each of us come to terms with the circumstances of our bereavement.

'Gary’s funeral was an occasion of great sadness and grief for everyone concerned but it was also a day where we were able to say farewell to him in our own personal and private way.

'At this time we wish to reiterate our deep appreciation for the very generous and clearly sincere accolades paid to Gary and his memory by the public and all forms of the media.

'We remain especially grateful for the sympathetic way that the media has respected the family’s privacy.

'The help and encouragement we have received from so many special individuals and organisations leading up to today’s inquest has been truly breathtaking and we must recognise publicly some of those concerned.

'The thoughtful way we have been treated by the Cheshire constabulary, which has been represented here today by Detective Inspector Peter Lawless.

'The considerate way today’s hearing has been conducted by HM Coroner Mr Nicholas Rheinburg. The practical help given in abundance by Melissa Chappell, whose support and friendship has been so much more to us than simply Gary’s professional agent.

'The invaluable life-line provided by the League Managers Association which has been there for us throughout. We are immensely thankful to all of you and greatly appreciate what you have done for us.

'Finally, our thanks go to the FA of Wales which has arranged the Gary Speed Memorial Match against Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday 29th February. '

This will give everyone whose lives were touched and enriched by Gary’s achievements the opportunity to attend, celebrate his life and pay their final respects. We look forward to seeing you there.'

Wales manager: Gary Speed, right, on the touchline alongside England boss Fabio Capello in September as the Welsh lost 1-0 to England in a European Championship qualifying match

Wales manager: Gary Speed, right, on the touchline alongside England boss Fabio Capello in September as the Welsh lost 1-0 to England in a European Championship qualifying match

Tributes: Leeds United supporters leave tributes to Gary Speed outside their Elland Road ground. Speed played for Leeds during a distinguished career

Tributes: Leeds United supporters leave tributes to Gary Speed outside their Elland Road ground. Speed played for Leeds during a distinguished career