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Casualty actor whose body lay unfound in woods for 15 months ‘committed suicide’

17:55 03 April 2014

Richard Gent.

Richard Gent.

Archant

A young actor believed to have lain dead and undiscovered in woodland for 15 months carried a piece of rope around with him for two weeks before hanging himself, a court has heard.

Richard Gent with his sister.Richard Gent with his sister.

The body of Richard Gent, who played cameo roles in TV dramas including Casualty, Teachers, Mistresses, and hit Dr Who spin-off series Torchwood, was discovered in woodland off Claremont Road, in Cricklewood, in the early hours of July 2 last year.

He had not been seen since leaving his home in Ravenshaw Road, West Hampstead, on April 21, 2012.

Coroner Andrew Walker today ruled that Mr Gent, who was 27 at the time of his disappearance, had committed suicide following a severe bout of depression and anxiety.

A post-mortem examination recorded the cause of death as hanging.

Mr Gent’s parents and sister attended the inquest into his death at Barnet Coroners’ Court this morning and raised concerns that more could have been done by medical professionals to help the actor, who had a history of mental health problems.

The court heard Mr Gent had found himself in financial difficulties having become unemployed and feared being evicted from his flat in the days leading up to his disappearance.

He saw psychologist Dr Alastair Bailey on April 19, 2012, and reported having suicidal thoughts, telling Dr Bailey he had tested a rope by tying it to a tree two weeks earlier and had since carried it in a bag with him.

Dr Bailey referred Mr Gent to his registered GP at West Hampstead Medical Centre, in Solent Road, who saw him the next day and arranged for the North Camden Crisis Team to see Mr Gent at his home on April 21.

The crisis team scheduled a second visit with Mr Gent on April 22 but arrived to find no trace of him at his flat.

A missing persons enquiry was launched by Camden Police and officers who searched his bedroom on April 24 discovered a note from Mr Gent telling his family he loved them.

On July 2 last year, a homeless man discovered Mr Gent’s body hidden among bushes in an open space in Claremont Road, Cricklewood.

He was identified by his dental records.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Mr Walker said: “This is the first occasion I have ever come across a person who carried with them a rope.

“It’s a very rare circumstance so it’s difficult to draw from that anything specific.

“What is very important is no one should blame themselves for what has happened.

“Even if all the pieces of the puzzle had been put in the right place, no one can say if the outcome would have been any different.”

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