AN MAN who appeared fine to his wife as she left to visit family took his life just hours later, an inquest heard.

Hugh Devas was discovered by his wife Charmian in their barn when she returned from her trip on the evening of December 14.

Winchester Coroner’s Court heard Mr Devas, 68, had been diagnosed with depression last year, but Paul Cheeseman, a mental health practitioner for Southern Health trust, said he “appeared stable in mood” when he visited his home in Main Road, Littleton, two days before his death.

Mrs Devas added that on the day before his death “he was no different from the day before”.

“I would never have gone to London if I was worried about him,” she said.

Mrs Devas said she last had contact with her husband that evening.

Pathologist Dr Balvinder Shoker gave a cause of death of hanging, although toxicology tests showed Mr Devas, a retired solicitor, had raised levels of medication in his body at the time of death.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, senior coroner Grahame Short said: “Mr Devas had retired from work three years previously and seems to have found it hard to adjust to the change. I can’t determine precisely when he died... He left no notes, no messages explaining his actions.”

Following the inquest, Mr Devas’ family paid tribute in a statement. They said: “Hugh was a beloved husband, father, grandfather (‘Pops’ to all the little ones), brother, brother-in-law, uncle, godfather and friend to many. We all miss him dreadfully and the only comfort is that he is now at peace.

“Depression is a terrible illness and can overwhelm even those who appear to be so strong. We would encourage anyone who is struggling in such a way to seek and accept all the help that is available.”

The inquest did not examine the reasons for Mr Devas’ mental health problems.