A finance director hanged himself on a farm days after discovering ‘irregularities’ worth £ 250,000 in the general service where he worked, according to an investigation.
Anthony Atherton, 42, had worked for 15 years for BARDOC, a company that provides out-of-hours medical and general services in Rochdale, Bury and Bolton.
He rose through the ranks to the role of commercial and financial director but last August he learned from a colleague that a review had uncovered financial irregularities in the department.
Three days later he was found dead at Boar Edge Farm in Bury, Greater Manchester, where he kept the horses he owned.
The inquest into his death, at Rochdale Coroner’s Court, recorded a verdict of suicide on Tuesday and learned that police are now investigating an allegation of fraud against Mr Atherton.
His partner, Toddrick Marsh, revealed that they planned to buy a house together, where they would have had space to keep his horses.
CFO Anthony Atherton, of Bury, Greater Manchester, was found dead on a farm days after discovery of ‘irregularities’ worth £ 250,000 in the GP service where he worked, according to an investigation
Detective Inspector Alison Witkiewicz of Greater Manchester Police told the hearing that BARDOC reported allegations of fraud against Mr Atherton, de Bury, to police in September, a month after his death.
She explained that the allegations were for a sum of around £ 250,000 and relate to a period between April 2015 and June 2020.
The report was made to police after a staff member was brought in to examine BARDOC’s finances last April.
DI Witkiewicz said: “On August 11, the staff member informed Mr. Atherton of these irregularities.
“He was informed that he would not be allowed to do some of his work.”
DI Witkiewicz said the police investigation into the allegations was still ongoing.
Mr Atherton’s mother, Jeanette, said the allegations “were unlike her at all” and described her son as a “sociable” person with a “large circle of friends”.
He rose through the ranks to the position of commercial and financial director at BARDOC but last August he learned from a colleague that a review had uncovered financial irregularities in the department.
Ms Atherton said: “He was the life and soul of the party. He was very generous to all of his close friends who needed his help.
She told the hearing that her son had a “high work ethic” and had worked as a caregiver before taking a managerial position at BARDOC.
She said the last time she spoke to him was by text on the evening of August 13, and that she had “no reason to worry”.
However, the investigation learned that in the months leading up to his death, Mr Atherton raised his concerns with HR after learning that a new manager was to be on-boarded at BARDOC with his own team.
His partner, Mr Marsh, revealed that Mr Atherton’s workload has increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has led him to work overtime.
Mr Marsh said Mr Atherton also filed a complaint about a colleague about a week before his death.
Mr Marsh said he had known Mr Atherton for about four years and described him as a “fun and happy person who got along with everyone”.
Mr Marsh said: “I am not aware that he had any problems. Yes, he was under pressure at work but he was good at dealing with it.
“I have no idea why Tony did what he did. “
The investigation learned that after completing the work on August 13 of last year, Mr. Atherton traveled to Boar Edge Farm, where he kept his horses in a stable.
He called Mr. Marsh to tell him he would be late for the house.
Three days later he was found hanged in a stable at Boor Edge Farm (pictured), near Woodgate Avenue in Bury, Greater Manchester, where he kept his horses.
At the farm, Mr. Atherton collected milk from Deborah Cooper, a friend who lived there, shortly after 7:40 p.m.
The couple chatted for 10 minutes and Mr Atherton told them he was having “tough times” at work and had filed a grievance against a co-worker.
Ms Cooper said he had appeared “her normal self” and then returned to the stable.
Throughout the evening, Mr. Atherton and Mr. Marsh exchanged several texts before the latter fell asleep.
Mr Marsh woke up at 2 a.m. and tried to call Mr Atherton after worrying about not responding to his last texts.
However, there was no response and Mr. Marsh fell asleep again.
He woke up again at 6.30am and, still without news from his partner, texted Ms Cooper asking him to check his horse box.
She went down to the stables where she discovered Mr. Atherton’s body.
Pathologist Dr Sami Titi said Mr Atherton’s cause of death was asphyxiation from hanging.
BARDOC is based at the Moorgate Primary Care Center in Bury
The court heard that following the death of her son Ms Atherton had worried about the sums of money being regularly withdrawn from her bank account, but blamed it on the fact that he had done work in her. House.
She said she was unaware that he was in debt and had always been a “saver”.
Seeing that Mr Atherton’s death was a suicide, Chief Coroner Joanne Kearsley said: “He made people feel like he was perfectly fine.
“Very tragically, there is clearly something in his mind that he might be aware is going to come out.”
Speaking to Mr Atherton’s family, Ms Kearsley said: “I cannot answer why, and I cannot answer the questions you need to know about this investigation and what is going on.”
“Her death must have been so shocking to you as a family, so to hear about the investigation a month later you must have so many questions that don’t make sense to you.”
BARDOC could not be reached for comment. Greater Manchester Police have been approached for comment.
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