Shotgun death tragedy dad found by his wife

Matthew Wells

Matthew Wells

Mystery surrounds the death of a man who “had everything to live for”, an inquest heard.

Dad-of-two Matthew Wells was found with a gunshot injury to his head in the kitchen of his Leigh home in the early hours of May 8 by his wife Katie.

The couple had been out together on May 7 to celebrate their wedding anniversary, which had been the previous month, but had argued after Mr Wells, 32, received a text message during dinner.

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how the couple returned to their Shelley Street home but continued to argue and Mr Wells’s behaviour became increasingly erratic.

He began throwing the children’s toys around and made a number of worrying statements including telling Mrs Wells what song he wanted played at his funeral.

But she put his behaviour down to attention-seeking, saying she went to bed knowing it was better to ignore him and wait until he had calmed down.

Mr Wells took a shower and woke her up when he came into the bedroom to get dressed and put aftershave on. She said: “He went back downstairs and it was then that I heard it.”

Mr Wells had held a shotgun licence for a number of years and regular went clay pigeon-shooting with his father or with friends. This he had done the day before and not put the weapon away in the cabinet as usual but stowed it under the bed.

The court heard that this was out of character and that Mr Wells was normally very methodical about gun safety.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Wells, who carried out the autopsy, said Mr Wells died from a gunshot injury to the head and neck. Tests had shown Mr Wells had 212mg of alcohol in his blood, two and half times the drink drive limit, and a higher amount in his urine.

He said: “This suggests it could have been higher at one point. How it would have affected him would depend on how used he is to drinking but even in someone that has quite a high tolerance, that level in blood would be enough to cause significant intoxication.

“It would affect his judgement and make him emotional.”

Mrs Wells described her husband as funny, outgoing and sociable. She said in the weeks leading up to his death he was his normal self and he had everything to look forward to.

Mr Wells’ dad, Kenneth Wells, said: “Matthew was a very good family man. He was a very good son and brother to his sisters. He loved life. He wanted to do the best he could for everybody.”

The court heard that Mr Wells sent text messages to his mum, dad, sisters and to Mrs Wells that night, telling them each the he loved them. The message to his mum read: “Love you mum. Thanks for my life.”

The court heard that Mr Wells was into his fitness and had taken steroids in the past. Police discovered steroids at Mr Wells’s home but were unable to establish if he had taken any before his death.

Assistant coroner Timothy Brennand concluded that there was not enough evidence to suggest Mr Wells had intended to take his own life. Lack of evidence about Mr Wells intention and the amount of alcohol in his system led him to record an open verdict.

He said: “This was a self-inflicted gunshot injury in circumstances where the state of mind of the deceased and precise means the gun was discharged cannot be established even on a balance of probabilities.”