A DEMOLITION contractor who was facing bankruptcy after running up debts of more than £100,000, hanged himself in his works yard garage.

In March last year 76-year-old David Briggs, who ran Briggs Demolition, based in Wellington Street, Bury, was released from prison after serving part of a 24-week sentence for Health and Safety offences.

He had ignored an asbestos survey and begun pulling down the former Oakbank Trading Centre in Chadderton, Oldham, putting three workers and nearby residents at risk.

An inquest in Heywood heard how, on his release, Mr Briggs complied fully with probation requirements and was always jovial but, having worked most of his life in the industry, struggled to accept modern protocols.

Assistant coroner Nicholas Flanagan heard how debts were mounting, with him owing at least £50,000 in tax and VAT, a further £60,000 in business rent and at least £35,000 he had borrowed in loans.

His daughter, Natalie Briggs, described him as a workaholic.

“He was a character. Nothing ever phased him,” she said, adding that he told virtually no one about his dire financial state.

“Business was up and down but he wouldn’t discuss anything like that with us,” she said.

Karen Atherton, Mr Briggs’ probation case manager, described him as “confident and jovial”, and gave no indication that he was suicidal over the prospect of imminent bankruptcy.

Mr Briggs, who had been divorced from his wife Susan for several years, lived in a caravan at his yard in Wellington Street.

The court heard that at around 7.15am on December 4 last year, his grandson, William arrived to find the yard, unusually, locked up.

He climbed over the gate and discovered his grandfather hanging in the garage. Paramedics arrived but Mr Briggs was dead.

Miss Briggs said her father was a very matter-of-fact person who gave no indication of his intentions, but, at his age, found the prospect to trying to start again after bankruptcy too much.

“He had got himself into so much financial difficulty there was no way out,” she said.

“I think he just thought, ‘nah, I’m not doing this anymore.’

“He just did what he wanted to do right to the end.”

A pathologist found Mr Briggs, a father-of-four and grandfather-of-seven, died from hanging and police concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.

Recording a conclusion of suicide Mr Flanagan commented: “He was a fiercely independent and hard-working man.”

He added: “This was no cry for help. He did it at a time when he knew no one was around.

“At this stage in his life he didn’t want to carry on. He intended to take his own life – there can be no other explanation.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Briggs’ former wife, Susan, said: “We are all devastated that we couldn’t help him.”

And his daughter, Natalie, added: “He was just a straight talking, matter-of-fact person.”