AN INQUEST into the death of a former driving instructor from Bishops Lydeard has returned a conclusion of suicide.

Scott Hawkins, 41, of The Leat, Bishops Lydeard, had appeared at Taunton Crown Court on March 10 this year, where he pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of inappropriately touching 11 female pupils, West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose was told at Taunton’s Old Municipal Buildings on Thursday.

The inquest heard how Mr Hawkins had maintained his innocence and that his family and friends were offering emotional and legal support to fight his case.

Mr Hawkins had appeared tearful to his wife, Julie, after a report of the court hearing was published on the County Gazette website that day as he was ‘fearful of repercussions’.

The article appeared in the print edition of March 13, despite requests to the paper by friends of Mr Hawkins not to publish it, the hearing was told.

Despite leaving home for work as normal that day, Mr Hawkins returned while his wife was at work.

Mrs Hawkins came home that afternoon and found a note before discovering Mr Hawkins’ body.

Giving a conclusion of suicide and a cause of death as suspension by the neck, Mr Rose said court reporting has an impact on defendants and their families but added: “The reporting of such cases does give assistance to the police so that other people can come forward who have been assaulted.

“I don’t know the details of this case, but it was not the most serious and I understand the Crown Prosecution Service was going to reduce some of the charges.”

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