A retired police chief killed himself with a lethal cocktail of drink and drugs a fortnight after he left a heartbreaking message on Facebook confessing to an alcohol problem.

Clive Helliwell posted the note on his social media apologising to his fiancee saying he had mental health issues.

The 64-year-old also said he had been "an awful dad" to his two sons and admitted he had been "embarrassed' about his past.

The former police Superintendent, a father of two, retired from Lancashire Police due to ill health.

He said although he had lost friendships he vowed to beat his demons and make a future for himself and his bride-to-be, businesswoman Angelina Findlay.

But just two weeks later Mr Helliwell of Penwortham, Preston, wrote a suicide note and was subsequently admitted to hospital suffering the effects of an overdose of alcohol, anti depressants and antihistamine.

An inquest heard he was transferred to an emergency unit but died the following day with tests showing he died from a combined toxicity of Venlafaxine and Amlodipine drugs.

The contents of the note were not made public.

The tragedy occurred after Mr Helliwell enjoyed a "long and distinguished career" as a police officer with the Lancashire constabulary having joined in 1976 as a constable in Blackpool.

He was promoted to sergeant at Blackburn and going on to become an inspector in Leyland and Chorley before moving to police HQ where he worked as a staff officer for the then chief constable.

He returned as a chief inspector at Blackburn and became Superintendent at Colne but he went off sick in 2001 and after taking early retirement he was said to have fallen into a "downward spiral of alcoholism' and in the weeks before his death he repeatedly admitted himself to hospital saying he had been having suicidal thoughts.

On October 7 last year Mr Helliwell wrote on Facebook: "I have my faults, one of which is to wear my heart on my sleeve and to tell everyone of my thoughts. So here goes.

"First and foremost I would like to say sorry to Kay and Tom for being an awful dad.

"Secondly, and, equally really, I would like to say sorry to Angela, my fiance, for mentioning her past on Facebook. We all have skeletons in our cupboards, some small, some large.

"I am aware, too, that I have a history of mental illness and aware that I have (or hopefully had) a drink problem.

"I hear the advice I have from friends, friends I value so much but Angela and I have had a long discussion and we intend to, rightly or wrongly, make our future together.

"We are both embarrassed and ashamed of our past and realise we have, and will, lose family and friendships, but together we are stronger than apart. We just hope and pray we have an amazing future together.

"Thank you to all of you who have helped me in the past and in the present. Please pray for us and wish us luck."

His brother, Dr Paul Helliwell, a dentist told the Preston hearing: "I must admit that we weren't aware of the number of occasions that Clive admitted himself to various services. Clive could be very articulate and convincing when he wasn't under the influence of drink.

"But I do have concerns over the threshold needed to be reached under the Mental Health Act – it's very high. But, you would also open the flood gates if you made it much lower."

He added: "Clive had a very long and distinguished career as a senior police officer with Lancashire Police, and he also worked with the Home Office. His downfall was his addiction to alcohol, which was regrettable.

"He retired from the police with ill health, and he had been an alcoholic for 10 years. He had great help from the alcohol services in the past, it's just regrettable that it came to this. I would like to thank all the health services for the help they provided him."

Dr Graham Ellis a consultant at Royal Preston Hospital said: "Mr Helliwell first admitted himself at the hospital at approximately 8pm on September 30. He told the team that he had drunk alcohol and felt suicidal. He was given supportive treatment and IV fluids and was referred to the medical team.

"He presented again on October 8 and he told the triage nurse that he felt suicidal, but wasn't harming himself. He was intoxicated at the time and was seen by a doctor who treated him with medication.

"He came in again on October 12 at 1am with a similar presentation. He was kept in the department so he could be medically cleared and he was referred to the Alcohol Liaison Service.

"He then presented on October 19 and he stated that he had started drinking again and said that he had previously had suicidal thoughts, but didn't on that day. He was referred to the Alcohol Liaison Service.

"He presented again on October 22, and said he tried to self-harm. His wounds were treated, but they were just superficial. He was brought in on October 23, and he had signs of self-harm and said he had taken Venlafaxine, alcohol and antihistamines. It was suspected that he took an overdose.

"As the morning went on, at approximately 2.40pm, his blood pressure dropped. At about 6am, matters turned for the worst and his blood pressure dropped quite significantly at that point."

Dr Huw Twamley said: "I found that Mr Helliwell, at the time, was quite drowsy and talking intermittently and was unresponsive. The main concern was that his blood pressure was quite low and not responding to intervention.

"We started some medication to raise his blood pressure, but my suspicion was that there was some other medication involved. I did enquire about what other medication he had taken, but he couldn't respond.

"It wasn't for me to say whether he had taken anything in excess. Our main concern was to raise his blood pressure. We got him as stable as we could and then transferred him to the emergency department. But, he sadly died there."

Mental health practitioner Susan Ray, said: "On October 22, I was asked to go see Mr Helliwell in the A&E department and I was told that he was expressing suicidal ideations while intoxicated. I thought he was intoxicated because he was unstable on his feet, but he was very articulate.

"He said 'I know what I would need to do if I was struggling'. He was making that decision to go home.

"Because he said he didn't want to kill himself and didn't want to access the services, I agreed for him to be discharged. He said all the right things, and I had no reason to question that.

"He didn't want to engage with me at all, but he was saying the right things and he had the right to make that choice to leave the hospital.

"When he was referred, I was told that he was medically fit and the very fact that he was articulate – his speech wasn't slurred – there was nothing to say that he was under the influence of alcohol."

Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Richard Taylor said: "There was a note which I don't intend to go into in open court – that is a private matter. But, reading that, I am not left with any other option than to give a conclusion of suicide."

Miss Findley who runs a pet sitting service was not in court.

For confidential support  the Samaritans  can be contacted for free around the clock 365 days a year on 116 123.

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