MIKHAIL WATFORD DEATH: Invasion of Ukraine 'played part in property tycoon's suicide,' inquest hears
THE invasion of Ukraine played a part in the suicide of a Russian property tycoon at his UK mansion, an inquest heard.
Mikhail Watford, 66, (above) a Russian national who was born in Ukraine, was found hanged in the garage of his £18 million home in Virginia Water, Surrey, at about midday on February 28 this year.
Mr Watford made his fortune in oil and gas and moved to the UK in the early 2000s, later changing his surname from Tolstosheya.
His death was four days after the Russian invasion and there was speculation it could have been suspicious due to the timing.
Another newspaper reported that a neighbour said Mr Watford had feared he was on Vladimir Putin's "hit list."
However, Simon Wickens, Area Coroner for Surrey, said at an inquest on Friday that he was confident Mr Watford, who had been suffering with a number of illnesses for 18 months, intended to kill himself and there were no suspicious circumstances.
He said: "Russia had invaded Ukraine some four days before his death and while watching television he had become upset and had not eaten for four days since the start of the conflict which he described as 'brother fighting brother'."
The court heard police searches of his computer found he had been researching ways to commit suicide since last December and there were several handwritten letters to relatives found in his home apologising for what he intended to do.
One said: "I can't live this life anymore. I am really sorry for what I have done, but I can't handle my inlless any more."
He had seen the GP about anxiety and depression about four months before his death as he reacted badly to antidepressant diazepam.
His wife Jane Watford, 42, (above right with Mikhail) said his mental health had been declining significantly as he could no longer do hobbies such as skiing and had difficulty sleeping.
He had not slept the night before he died and had completed a will in the weeks before his death and had suffered some bad financial losses.
A signed and dated note written in his handwriting and found in his coat pocket said: "To whom it may concern, please do not blame anybody it is my decision."
It was not possible to determine when and where the rope he used was bought, but it matched those on sale at a nearby hardware shop.
A post mortem examination found he died as a result of hanging and there was no evidence of any other injuries on his body or signs of third party involvement or pressure from others.
Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Wickens said: "This was a planned deliberate act with the intention of taking his own life.
I do note the background of reported depression and anxiety and down turn in his mental health, the series of bad business transactions and, as noted by his wife, his upset at the turmoil brought about by Russian advances on Ukraine."