‘Quiet’ rugby player, 25, found dead at home after break up

A ‘beloved’ rugby player who had ‘absolutely everything to live for’ did not intend to end his own life, a coroner has ruled.

Rhys Horrocks, 25, was discovered in a ‘collapsed and unresponsive’ state at his family’s home in Ince, Wigan, on May 12 of this year.

An inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court on Tuesday heard that he had been ‘struggling’ to come to terms with a relationship break-up at the time.

Giving evidence, Rhys’s dad John Horrocks said that while Rhys was feeling ‘down’ about the break-up, there were ‘no warning signs’ that his son intended to end his life.

Mr Horrocks described Rhys as ‘quiet’ and ‘well-liked’, adding that he had been a ‘phenomenal’ rugby league player, the Manchester Evening News reports.

He told the hearing that Rhys had been picked up by Wigan Warriors at the age of 16 and had dreamed of playing professionally.

However, after studying at college, Rhys found work as a joiner. At the time of his death, he was working as a self-employed pointer and played rugby league for Spring View ARLFC.

The inquest heard that while Rhys had a background of ‘episodic low mood, anxiety and depression’, he had never previously expressed any thoughts of suicide.

On the day of his son’s death, Mr Horrocks said he had left home early for work before heading to the doctors for a medical procedure.

He said he did not see Rhys that day, but his wife informed him he had not gone into work. Mr Horrocks said he and his wife returned home at about 5pm and discovered that a family member had found Rhys hanged in a bedroom.

“It was unbelievable to us,” he said in a statement read out in court. “As a family, we can’t get our heads around what happened.”

Pathologist Dr David Barker gave Rhys’s cause of death as ‘suspension by ligature’. The inquest heard that on the day of his death, Rhys had made several internet searches, including one relating to overdosing on paracetamol.

Asked whether he believed Rhys had intended to end his life, Mr Horrocks said: “I knew from the moment it happened he would be looking down at me with his head in his hands saying ‘I messed up’.”

Recording a conclusion of ‘misadventure’, senior coroner Timothy Brennand said that while Rhys had been ‘distressed’ about the break-up, he was ‘not convinced’ that he intended to end his own life.

“In every respect he was living a full, worthwhile and entirely functional life with no other stress and no other reason that might have prompted him to move into low mood and suicidal ideation,” the coroner added. “He had absolutely everything to live for.”

Mr Brennand ruled that Rhys had suffered ‘inadvertent asphyxiation’ while ‘experimenting’ with the ligature. “This was the unintended consequence of his deliberate act,” he added.

Paying tribute to Rhys after the hearing, Mr Horrocks said: “He was a loved son, uncle, brother and is not going to leave out hearts. He will be sorely missed.”

In a tribute shared on Facebook following Rhys’s death, Spring View ARLFC described him as a ‘popular and much loved member of our team’.

They added: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news that Rhys has passed away. He was a popular and much loved member of our team and will be missed by everyone.

“We will never forget you mate you’ll always be in our hearts and with us on the field. Fly High Mate.”

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