A HEST Bank man took his life a day after learning that his wife was terminally ill and two weeks after the death of his son, an inquest has heard.

Former Heysham High School teacher Edmond Clarke died on December 29 after taking a cocktail of medicinal drugs and alcohol at his Hest Bank Lane home.

His 45-year-old son, Alan Clarke, was killed two weeks earlier when he was struck by a train on the line at Pasture Lane, Hest Bank.

Monday's inquests into their deaths revealed that both men had a history of depression and Alan Clarke had previously attempted suicide.

Dr Sarah Clarke, daughter of 74-year-old Edmond and sister to Alan, told the inquest that her brother had battled depression for years and, after trying a number of careers, had become a Buddhist monk. He was ordained at Throstle Hall Abbey in Hexham in 1996.

Rev Daishin Morgan, of Throstle Hall, said it was obvious to him that Alan had difficulties and had felt a lot of anger. He was given the responsibility of becoming a chaplain but was later asked to leave the monastery following a spate of inappropriate behaviour that saw him become angry and abusive.

His body was found on December 17, the day after he left Throstle Hall, at the side of the railway line at Pasture Lane. An investigation revealed that a train had struck him on the previous evening and he died from severe head injuries.

Recording an open verdict, assistant deputy coroner Nicola Mundy said she could not be sure Alan Clarke intended to take his own life.

She said: "Mr Clarke's behaviour in the days leading up to his death suggested that he had difficulty dealing with pressures. But he left two notes in the format of a poem, which may have indicated an intention to take his own life, and a letter asking for a reference. It appears that they were in conflict."

Following the death of his son, Edmond Clarke learned that his wife had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and became depressed.

The inquest was told that he was due to collect his wife from hospital on December 29 but failed to turn up. He was later found at home, having taken an overdose of tablets which, together with a heart condition, led to his death.

A verdict of suicide was recorded.