Photographer left suicide note

A young Fred Johnstone
A young Fred Johnstone

AN 86-YEAR-OLD photographer killed himself by taking an overdose of paracetamol.

A Lancaster Coroner’s Court inquest was told that Fred Johnstone, 86, who was honorary life president of the Lancaster and Morecambe Photographic Society, had suffered with a curved spine, which affected his lungs and breathing, as well as poor hearing.

Mr Johnstone, of Goodwood Avenue, Slyne, was found at home in bed by one of his three step-children Rita Warren, known to friends as Joy, on January 14.

“Life was very hard for him because he was fairly independent,” Ms Warren told the court.

“He was in a lot of pain and could not walk very well but he was not the kind of person who would go willingly to the doctor.”

Mr Johnstone, a grandfather of 18, and great grandfather of two, who lost his wife Mary to Alzheimer’s disease in 2003, had been due to have a cataract operation to improve his sight.

But Ms Warren said he had not been particularly worried about the operation, which was scheduled for the week after his death.

“He was concerned about his sight because he realised his photographs were not up to standard,” she said.

Ms Warren told how she had spent her birthday, January 10, with her stepfather, but that he had not seemed well. “We had often joked about what would we do with his 50,000 odd photographic slides when he had gone and that day he talked about putting them on the dump,” she said.

See the Lancaster Guardian (16-06-11) for full story.