The inquest into Speed’s death

No one — not even the Cheshire county coroner — has a clue as to why a man with so much to live for, a man apparently secure in his professional life, a man surrounded by those who loved and admired him, would take his own life. Even after an exhaustive police inquiry and a public inquest. Or even whether he finally intended to do so. Why he did so, however, remains utterly baffling. The inquest into Speed’s death was held in the stately Warrington Town Hall, a Palladian mansion that has somehow withstood the modernising ravages that scar its surroundings.

In a room at the back of the building, generally inquests are held. But such was the interest, it was scheduled in the main council chamber, a place that normally echoes to the sound of debate about budgets and contraflow systems. But yesterday, the adjective sombre is barely sufficient to describe the atmosphere in the chamber. Speed’s family and friends — their faces speaking as much of bafflement as loss — were sitting in front of the coroner’s desk. To their left were row upon row of reporters; as was clear in the tributes paid in football grounds around the country, this was a man whose passing deeply touched the public. The wider mood is reflected by the press interest.
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