Support worker drowned in reservoir

A POPULAR and fun-loving man left a suicide note on the bank of a Sheffield reservoir before weighing himself down with stones and drowning himself, an inquest heard.

Owen McDowell, aged 48, left letters to family and friends at his home in Nichols Road, Walkley, telling them of his intentions.

He also laid out his will on a table.

His body was discovered in Rivelin Reservoir in February after a passerby discovered a note on the bank.

An inquest at Sheffield's Medico Legal Centre heard Mr McDowell had lived in the city for 30 years after moving from his home town of Liverpool to attend university.

The Sheffield Council asylum support worker had suffered from depression since 1992 and had been treated at Walkley House medical centre in Greenhow Street since 2002.

But he had not seen a doctor there since November 2006.

In a statement Dr David Fitzgerald said the last time he'd seen him Mr McDowell was "feeling much better" after a course of anti-depressants.

But he only collected one more prescription for the drugs in January 2007.

Toxicology reports found no evidence of anti-depressants but Mr McDowell was twice the legal drink driving limit.

His brother David McDowell said his brother's actions were a "surprise to everyone".

He said he had been due to come over to Liverpool for a Mother's Day visit and had confirmed the trip by text.

"There was no indication that anything was wrong," he said.

During the night of February 28 and 29 Mr McDowell went to Rivelin reservoir, put a rucksack full of stones on his back and left a note on the bank asking for his body be removed from the water.

The letter was found on February 29 by a passing member of the public who raised the alarm.

Police divers searched the reservoir and discovered his body five days later.

PC Samantha Cooper said their inquiries revealed Mr McDowell was fun-loving and happy-go-lucky.

"The way everybody described him does not fit with the side that has come to light," she said.

Pathologist Dr Kim Suvarna said the cause of death was drowning.

Recording a verdict Mr McDowell took his own life, assistant deputy coroner Donald Coutts-Wood said: "The lengths he has gone to clearly indicate to me that it was his intention to take his own life."

After the hearing Mr McDowell's brother thanked South Yorkshire Police and his brother's friends for their support.