Lee Collins: Yeovil Town captain took his own life after struggling with alcohol addiction, inquest hears

·3-min read
Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins died at the age of 32 (PA)
Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins died at the age of 32 (PA)

A professional footballer took his own life after struggling with alcohol addiction and mental health problems, an inquest heard.

The body of Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins was discovered at the Lanes Hotel in West Coker, near Yeovil, after he failed to attend training on March 31.

He had alcohol and cocaine in his blood at the time of his death, the inquest in Taunton on Wednesday heard.

Mr Collins, of Newport, Gwent, had problems with low mood and alcohol addiction in the years before his death, the court was told.

Tony Williams, the senior coroner for Somerset, reached a conclusion of suicide. A post-mortem examination found Mr Collins died from hanging.

In a lengthy statement read to the inquest, Mr Collins‘ partner Rachel Gibbon described him as a “very complex character”.

“There was a Lee Collins that the world saw and a Lee that only those closest to him saw,” Ms Gibbon said.

“On the surface, Lee was confident, cool and collected. He had time for everyone and anyone and if he didn’t have very much time, he would make it.”

Ms Gibbon described her partner as a “class clown” who would make people laugh with his “infectious personality”.

“The Lee that no-one else saw was a completely different person,” she said.

“He was insecure, anxious and lost. Lee had an addictive personality. Whatever it is he was doing, he was doing it 110%.”

She told the inquest that Mr Collins had an “intermittent addiction” to gambling throughout their relationship, but his “main addiction” was drinking.

“Lee was an alcoholic. No-one really knew the extent of how bad his drinking was,” Ms Gibbon said.

“Lee drinking was never an issue and was recreational until he started to use it as a crutch for his mental health.”

In 2017, Mr Collins was left devastated by the deaths of his dog and his father, the inquest heard.

He previously drank alcohol at the weekends but this increased to every night, when he would consume six bottles of strong cider and two bottles of wine, Ms Gibbons said.

She told the hearing Mr Collins, who also began drinking spirits, would disappear for “days at a time on drinking benders”.

Mr Collins went to rehab in November 2018 and did not drink alcohol for six months, but began again during a holiday.

Before his death, Ms Gibbon would set her alarm early to remove empty bottles of alcohol from their house to prevent their children from seeing them.

“I also found drugs on Lee and in our home,” she added.

“Towards the end of Lee‘s life, as a couple we were having major issues because of addictions.

“I explained to Lee that something had to change but nothing was.”

Ms Gibbon concluded her statement by describing Mr Collins as a “gentle giant” and “the kindest, most generous man”.

The inquest heard Mr Collins‘ body was found by Terry Skiverton, assistant manager at Yeovil Town, at about 4.50pm on March 31.

Emergency services attended the hotel, where a number of footballers for the club were staying, and Mr Collins was pronounced dead at 5.01pm.

Mr Collins began his career at Wolves and also had spells with Hereford, Port Vale, Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Northampton, Mansfield and Forest Green.

He moved to Vanarama National League club Yeovil Town from Forest Green in 2019. His final game for the club was at Stockport on February 6.

Additional reporting by PA

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