A decorated sailor and Afghan war hero committed suicide because he was ‘couldn’t move on’ with the loss of his ‘dream home’ after an argument over a low fence he feared would prevent his children from getting privacy in the garden, a court has said. research heard.
Petty Officer Rob Minshull was furious after a developer refused to sell them a £375,000 property in Cornwall after they complained about the 4ft fence, which was 2ft lower than other properties on the development.
They were concerned that people at a nearby Tesco store in Helston would see their young daughters playing in the paddling pool in the garden. The family claimed the developer refused to sell them the property, which they claim was taken off the marker and put back again for £75,000 more.
His wife Kerry said Rob “couldn’t get over losing the house.” The failure of a home purchase in 2021 sent him further into a depression spiral, including over rising mortgage rates and the cost of living crisis.
Ms Minshull told the inquest into his death in Truro: ‘This had a huge effect on Rob. He started drinking more and he couldn’t get past the way we lost the house.”
Rob and Kerry Minshull lost their dream home to a fence and the veteran sailor never recovered from the stress, a court inquest has found
A developer refused to sell Rob and Kerry Minshull their ‘forever home’ in Helston, Cornwall, when they complained that the four-foot fence was too low. He would later commit suicide
The couple were concerned that the lower fence at the four-bed new build would allow people from a nearby Tesco to watch their two young daughters play in the paddling pool in the garden. The developer allegedly took it off the market for £375,000 and put it back on the market for £450,000
In December 2021, the 42-year-old and his wife and two daughters later moved to another property in Helston, Cornwall, but deemed it ‘second best’.
Kerry told the coroner: ‘Rob was life and soul, everyone loved him. He was a brilliant husband and father and would do anything for anyone.’
Kerry had previously said the family had spent thousands of pounds on fees and goods for the new four-bedroom house.
Kerry, 41, said at the time: ‘It just completely broke my family. I would never want this to happen to anyone.’
Rob lost his sleep and his appetite and drank more alcohol as a result of losing the house. One morning in October 2022, Kerry found Rob hanged in the garage of that house.
An inquest in Truro, Cornwall heard that Rob suffered from other stresses as well.
The aircraft engineer, who had joined the Royal Navy aged 17 and spent 25 years on ships including HMS Illustrious and served in Afghanistan in 2009-2010, was offered a promotion to Chief Petty Officer which he did not want.
Worried about his children and the rising cost of living and mortgage interest, he told his assistant wife about recent suicide attempts.
After losing the house, Mr Minshull is also increasingly worried about rising interest rates and the cost of living crisis
Rob, pictured with his wife and children, had been prescribed antidepressants by Navy doctors, but he feared, wrongly, that he would be medically discharged from senior service – so he quit.
Mr and Mrs Minshull spent thousands of pounds on lawyer’s fees, mortgage costs and bespoke wardrobes and blinds when it fell through
Navy doctors had prescribed antidepressants for him, but he feared, mistakenly, that he would be medically discharged from senior service—so he stopped taking them and was allowed to take back his responsible job in aircraft construction.
On the night he killed himself, he had told Kerry he loved her, which she reciprocated and he went back to bed. But at four in the morning Kerry woke up and Rob wasn’t in bed – and she found him in the garage.
Captain Stuart Irwin, commanding officer of the Royal Naval Air Station in Culdrose, Cornwall, where Rob was stationed for most of his career, told the Inquiry that an investigation had been launched.
He said most people referred to the agency’s medical board have not been discharged from the Navy, but their perceptions of that may be different.
He said close friends and colleagues in Rob’s small unit saw no change in his behavior and were shocked by his death.
He said he had talked about the failed house purchase and the rising cost of living, but said of his comrades “none of them saw it coming.”
Assistant coroner Emma Hillson recorded a suicide conclusion.
She said the house problem had a huge impact on Rob, whose sleep and eating were severely affected and he was drinking more.
She said his wife Kerry encouraged him to get help — and overheard him on the phone with the Samaritans six weeks before his death — but he refused.
- For anyone who needs help, Samaritans can be reached free of charge on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.