A MAN who crashed his van into a tree was suffering from severe stress and anxiety, an inquest has heard.

Andrew Holtham, 47, East Brow Road, Pickering, a trained plumber and electrician, was about to begin a PhD in economics at the University of York when the crash happened on August 21, this year, in Low Moor Road, Newton-on-Rawcliffe.

At an inquest at Scarborough Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday), coroner Michael Oakley recorded a conclusion of suicide while Mr Holtham's mind was disturbed.

Mr Oakley said: “He was both intellectual and practical – a man of many talents.”

Mr Holtham lived with his wife, Claire, in Leamington Spa before moving north, first to York, then to Pickering. The couple have two children.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Mrs Holtham, a systems analyst, said her husband initially worked in a library, before becoming a plumber, training as an electrician and eventually going on to fit solar panels. He was also about to begin a PhD in economics at the University of York.

The inquest heard a statement from Michael Jones, an accountant, that on the day of the crash he had been driving to Staithes when he came across the van in the road. It was lying upside down and Mr Jones said he could see oil or diesel leaking from the vehicle.

The scene was investigated by Stephen Kirkbright, collision investigator for North Yorkshire Police. He confirmed that Mr Holtham had made no attempt to brake.

Mrs Holtham thanked Mr Kirkbright for the thoroughness of his investigation. She added that her husband had suffered from mental health issues in the past, but for the past 10 years they had settled into a normal happy family life, until July this year. She said: “He became very anxious and depressed and stopped sleeping.”

Before his death, he had left a note to his family telling them how much he loved them.