Dad was haunted by fears of past

Mark Wallbank, 41, from Woodlands Drive, Leyland, who was found hanging in the grounds of Balshaw High School
Mark Wallbank, 41, from Woodlands Drive, Leyland, who was found hanging in the grounds of Balshaw High School

A man who was found hanged in the grounds of a Leyland high school had been worried that people from his past were looking for him, an inquest heard.

Dad-of-one Mark Wallbank, 41, from Woodlands Drive in Leyland, was found dead in the grounds of Balshaw High School on Church Road in August.

Days before, he had raised concerns about people from his ‘drug-taking days’ looking for him, a substance misuse practitioner told Preston Coroner’s Court last week.

Mr Damien Bradley said: “During our first meeting in April, Mark said that he was very down and didn’t want to be around anymore.

“But it appeared he improved as his treatment went on, and he didn’t express suicidal thoughts after that.”

But on August 28, he became ‘paranoid’ that people were after him, Mr Bradley added, and he advised Mr Wallbank to contact police if he was concerned for his welfare.

His parents, Netta and Kenneth Wallbank, reported their son missing the following day, and his body was found on August 30 in a wooded area of the high school.

Mr Wallbank told the court: “My wife saw Mark in the early hours of the morning on the 29th.

“She made him a cup of tea and then went to bed, and we never saw him again.

“We heard him leave the house, which was not unusual, and we tried to call his mobile later that morning.

“He had left before and he always came back for a meal at teatime, but when he didn’t, we called the police.”

He said he was ‘quite convinced’ his son had died the day before he was found, which Coroner Simon Jones agreed was possible.

Mr Jones added that Mr Wallbank had a history of drug abuse, but that he had built up a degree of tolerance, and that did not play a significant part in his death.

His verdict was that Mr Wallbank committed suicide.

Speaking after the inquest, Mark’s mum Netta described her son as a “kind and helpful person, who would do anything for anyone”.

She told the Guardian: “Everyone liked Mark. He had a lot of friends and he was very loyal and proud.

“He enjoyed being with his nephews and nieces; he thought the world of them, and he was very good with kids.

“He also had a 14-year-old daughter.”

She added Mark had been a prefect at Wellfield High School, and carried out a plumbing course at college in the last few years.

When he was feeling well, he also liked to help his dad with DIY jobs around the house, she said.