Gary Speed’s wife stormed out on night of his death

Gary Speed

The widow of former Wales manager Gary Speed today admitted that she stormed out of their house after an argument and spent the night in the car hours before he was found hanged.

Louise Speed, 41, made the revelation during the inquest into the former footballer’s death atWarrington Town Hall in Cheshire.

Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg returned a narrative verdict and ruled there was not enough evidence to say it was intentional. However, Speed, 42, had sent a text to his wife in the days before he died that had ‘talked in terms of taking his life’.

Today Mrs Speed said they had ‘had words’ the night before he was found hanging in the garage and she had walked out. She said: ‘We walked in the house and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing.’

She added: ‘I can’t even remember what it was.’

‘I suggested I would go for a drive. He blocked the back door and said “You are not going anywhere”.

'I can't even remember what it was': Mrs Speed, 40, told the coroner today that they had a petty argument
Louise leaving the inquest into her husbands death

‘I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes. Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think.’

She drove to the ‘top of the road’ – but her husband did not respond to her call when she tried to ring. After driving back to the house he again did not reply so she slept in the car because she had locked herself out.

After getting some sleep she woke up at about 6am and went to the outside bathroom.

She said she noticed some shed keys missing which were usually stored there and went to the shed to see if Gary was there, before moving to the garage.

The widow broke down in tears as she described walking to the rear of the of the house and seeing her husband’s body suspended on stairs from through the window.

After a brief pause to recover her composure, Mrs Speed said: ‘I could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step.’

She said she then woke their two teenage sons to open up the house and called the emergency services.

On their advice, she cut her husband to the ground as paramedics were dispatched to the luxury £1.5million home near Chester on November 27.

The inquest heard that investigators believed Mr Speed had been sitting on the stairs in his garage with the ligature around his neck.

Mr Rheinberg said: “It may have been that this was some sort of dramatic gesture, not normally in Mr Speed’s character, but nonetheless, a possibility.”

Mr Rheinberg added that Mr Speed may have sat there for some time and “nodded off to sleep” with the cable around his neck.

The couple had spent their last evening together at a dinner party at a friend’s house where Mr Speed and the other men had jumped into the swimming pool.

Mr Rheinberg described their behaviour as being ‘over-boisterous’ but Mrs Speed said that was ‘quite normal’ and said the evening had been ‘all good fun’.

The couple had arranged to leave their car at the house because they planned to drink, and were taken home at around 12.45am by a pre-arranged taxi. But shortly after they returned home the couple had ‘an exchange of words about something’.

When asked by Mr Rheinberg if there had been ‘some degree of stress with the relationship at this time’, she agreed and said there had been ‘ups and downs’ in their marriage.

Mrs Speed said her husband was forced to spend a lot of time away from home as Wales manager.

Wearing a grey trouser suit and pattern scarf, Mrs Speed said management and coaching, first with Sheffield United and then Wales, had put ‘something of a strain on him’.

The Welsh role was supposed to be part-time but he was spending ‘more time there (at work) than the ‘family man’ thought he would.

Mrs Speed agreed that ‘for both of us it was difficult’, with periods travelling abroad adding to his ‘separation’ from his family.

The coroner asked: ‘Would it be fair to say there was some degree of stress with the relationship at this time?’ and Mrs Speed agreed.

She added: ‘Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it.’

Speaking in hushed tones, she added: ‘He was a somewhat closed character.

‘He liked to take on board everyone else’s problems and try to help but was not one to open up himself. He was a very private person in a very public role.’

Four days before he died, Gary Speed had text his wife talking ‘in terms of taking his life’, the inquest heard.

But Mrs Speed said that immediately after the reference to suicide in their text exchange, Speed began referring immediately to ‘moving forward and how me and the boys were so important to him’.

She said he had never spoken in that way (about self-harm) before and had never previously harmed herself.

The day before he died, the 42-year-old former footballer had appeared happy and optimistic during an appearance on the BBC1 show Football Focus.

In a statement read out at the inquest, Newcastle legend Alan Shearer said his friend’s death made no sense as Mr Speed did not appear to be worried about anything when they last met at the BBC studios hours before his death.

He said: “He seemed fine, laughing and joking. Gary didn’t appear worried about anything.

“Gary seemed to be enjoying his job as Wales manager and coped with the pressure well.

“He knew what it was like beforehand and some part of him liked to work under pressure.

Row: Louise Speed left the family home, pictured, near Chester, and went for a drive after a row Hours later she discovered her husband hanged in the garage
The family home where Gary took his own life


‘When I left the studio on that Saturday I expected to hear from him on the Monday. On Sunday I got the phone call telling me Gary had died.

‘I didn’t believe it. I was shocked. Gary is probably one of the last people out of my million friends to ever do that.

‘I had only seen him the day before and he seemed fine, we had plans for the following week too. It just didn’t and still doesn’t make sense to me.’

He added that he was aware of a “couple of issues” between Mr Speed and his wife on the holiday.

He said: “My response was that is usual in a relationship that is so long-standing. I think he took the advice well as his words were that he was ‘going to give it a go’ and ‘stick in there’.”

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg ruled that there is no evidence to suggest Gary Speed intended to take his own life.

In a narrative verdict, he gave the cause of death as hanging but said ‘the evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental’.

In a statement read out after the inquest, Mr Speed’s family said the day of his death was the ‘worst day of our lives’ but his memory ‘shines brightly in our thoughts’.

‘Gary’s death and the manner of it, made Sunday 27 November 2011 the worst day of our lives,’ it read.

‘Throughout the nine weeks since, there have been some very dark moments, which we have all had to find our own different ways to endure.

‘Now, we have to adapt to the future without a husband, a father, a brother and a son; but Gary’s memory shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the wonderful times we shared with him and the deep love and affection he offered so freely within our close knit family.’

Mr Speed’s mother, Carol Speed, told how he ‘loved his sons completely’ but described him as a ‘man of few words’.

Speaking about his appointment as Wales manager, Mrs Speed said: ‘Gary said there was no greater honour than to manage his country in the game he loved.

‘Although Gary enjoyed his job he did not enjoy the high profile nature of it.

‘Gary always said he was not a celebrity.’

She said her son’s death left herself and her husband in ‘complete shock’.

‘Looking back, Gary was always a glass-half-empty person, certainly no optimist,’ her statement added.

Dan Walker, the presenter of Football Focus, spent four hours on and off camera with Speed the day before he died and he said he was left stunned by the tragedy.

Speaking in the days after the death, he said Speed had been ‘as bubbly as I have known him…It’s awful to think that someone who was so gifted and so well liked with the rest of his life to look forward to has been so cruelly removed.’

Tributes to Speed poured in from around the world after news of his death spread. A public memorial service to celebrate his life is planned to take place later this year.

Final hours: Gary Speed appears on the BBC's Football Focus next to Gary McAllister on November 26, broadcast from it's studios in Salford, hours before he was discovered dead
Gary Speed appears on the BBC's Football Focus next to Gary McAllister. Later that night he took his life