A man accidentally hanged himself trying to scare his fiancee while he was ‘joking around’ after coming home from a night out. Philip Burns, 36, died at his home on Thomson Street in Carlisle on February 28. Burns worked in Glasgow during the week and returned to Carlisle on the weekends to be with his fiancée, Michelle Delahunty-Evans, according to the Cockermouth Coroner’s Court.
On the afternoon of February 26, he had arrived in Carlisle, and he and his fiancee had gone to the pub to take part in a quiz. She claimed that although Burns had ingested some cocaine, he didn’t do it frequently. They had gone out on Sunday night, February 27, in Carlisle, had ‘quite a few drinks,’ and were ‘having a laugh.’ She said then they had come home and were ‘joking around’, ‘being silly’.
Delahunty-Evans claimed that while watching television and singing along, she turned around and saw Burns standing with his back to the door. She claimed that Burns had been attempting to frighten her when they were watching ‘American Horror Story‘ that weekend. Further investigations revealed that Burns had been ‘mucking around’ in an effort to catch his fiancee’s eye. Just after 3.30 am, emergency services received a call about a 36-year-old male who was not breathing.
Delahunty-Evans couldn’t find her phone to dial 999, so she ran outside and begged for assistance. According to a police constable who responded to the scene, when he arrived, there was a man on the floor who was not breathing, and someone was performing CPR.
He claimed that Burns’ partner was ‘intoxicated’ and ‘shocked’ by what was happening. When a police sergeant arrived on the scene, Burns was already laying on the ground, and the door frame had been damaged.
He tested positive for cocaine and had high quantities of alcohol in his system, according to a toxicological analysis of his blood. According to coroner Dr Nicholas Shaw, Burns had shown no desire to kill himself in the recent past.
He told the Daily Mail, “If someone is found hanging, you initially think they have committed suicide. Philip has no mental health history and no history of self-harm. He had been out for a night out and seems to have had a good time.”
“People don’t generally take their lives when people are in the same room at the same time. I find it hard to believe he has taken his own life. I’m more inclined to think that because they were playing around, I suspect this is something he has done that has gone wrong. No one will know. Philip can’t talk to us from the grave.
I think it’s more likely than not he was mucking around and something went wrong,” he added. He claimed that Burns was probably hanging on the door to frighten his fiancée when the rope tightened and killed him. Dr. Shaw came to the conclusion that Burns died accidentally, with hanging listed as the cause of death.