A Tesco employee who had been working there for 17 years committed suicide after he was dismissed from his job for ‘unreasonable behavior.’ His only fault was that he left his till to chase a shoplifter.
Shaun Winstanley from Blackpool, Lancashire, was a dedicated worker and had also won an award for his years of service – but the retail giant didn’t bother to consider even his previous record before firing him.
Shaun was dismissed from the post of customer assistant on January 2, 2019, without being given any respectful farewell just because he had pursued a shoplifter, putting his and a customer’s life at risk.
The father-of-three appealed the decision but his appeal was turned down after a few days on February 6, 2019.
Overwhelmed by constant stress and a feeling of being dejected, 49-year-old Shaun suffocated himself at his house between Feb 11 and 13.
Shaun’s stepdaughter Siobhan Winstanley said of the tragedy: “It is very raw, and very difficult for us to come to terms with.
“He was of the very strong opinion that (suicide) was a selfish thing to do, so obviously it’s not something he would have done lightly, knowing he had children.”
Shaun was facing some mental health issues which had worsened after he was being held at gunpoint during a robbery at Tesco branch in Blackpool.
Devastated by her father’s loss, the 28-year-old said: “He had struggled with his mental health on and off, but from last year when this incident occurred he seems to have taken a fall downhill and there was just no coming back from that.”
The 49-year-old had shared his suicidal thoughts with a friend two days before taking his life. He had also discussed them with a psychotherapist provided by the superstore, the recording of which was found in his laptop.
“He said he was struggling to sleep. He was very anxious. He was very depressed. He was struggling at work. He didn’t have a social life any more because it had taken him back that much. He said to the therapist ‘I’m suicidal,’” Siobhan said of her dad’s conversation with the therapist.
“He said ‘I have flashbacks and I lie there in bed at night and think about how I’m going to kill myself’. He sounded really defeated, just not himself, not the person we had grown up with.”
Siobhan explained that after the robbery her dad was transferred from Tesco Express at Highfield Road to their branch near Bispham and Poulton.
Even though the retail store offered her dad five counseling sessions, they rejected his request for some time off work, Siobhan revealed.
“Seventeen years he gave them and when he needed them most they let him down,” she said. “They didn’t offer him time off. They didn’t offer him anything. After 17 years, they sent him off without even a ‘bye.’”
Shaun’s dead body was discovered after one of his friends, who hadn’t seen him for a long time, came to meet him. Upon seeing his door locked with lights switched on, Shaun’s friend got worried.
Shaun’s pet dog who was constantly barking made him realize that something was wrong inside.
When no one responded to the knock at the door, Shaun’s friend called the police, after which the police came and found the dead body.
Detective Carl Harris said that Shaun was lying on the floor near a sofa with his face down. Everything was ‘clean and tidy’ in the house and there were ‘no signs of any disturbance’ and injuries.
“On the dining table there was a large sum of cash,” the detective said.
“To the right of the dining table there was a low table, and on that low table there were items of paperwork related to utility companies and banking details, and on the desk, there was an address book with names and telephone numbers in.
“I went into the kitchen. There was a phone on the side and next to the phone there was some information about kennels for dogs.”
It seemed that the depressed father tried to settle all the affairs before killing himself so that his family doesn’t face any problems.
Looking into the details of Shaun’s suicide attempt, coroner Clare Doherty concluded that it indeed was a suicide case as nobody seemed to be involved.
“The evidence indicates only a low level of anti-depressants in his body at the time of death. The level found would not cause any confusion of the mind,” Clare said.
He said that since the departed had left his money, diary, and important information openly, it indicates that “he was thinking forward following his death.”
Clare added: “Although there is no note, I’m satisfied that he intended to take his own life, not only from the evidence of his mental state and how he was feeling, but also the method that was used, the element of organization, and the evidence from police that there doesn’t appear to be anyone else involved.”