Family and friends of a maths teacher found hanged in his New Malden home have told an inquest they are still unsure as to why he took his own life.

Richard Billing, 55, a teacher at Heathside School in Weybridge, was found dead in his home in Hollington Crescent on September 8, last year.

His body was discovered by a friend who went to check on him after he failed to show up for lunch.

But in a written statement submitted to the inquest, sister Elizabeth Jill Richardson claimed there was “something at school that was troubling him”.

The statement read: “I have been through all of Richard’s paperwork and belongings and have found very little to give family and friends any clue as to what was on his mind.

“One thing that I was told a few days after his death was that there was something at school that was troubling him.

“Whilst searching for a will, we came across a new digital voice recorder.

“I was told that Richard had intended to use it to record certain conversations at school.

“I have not shared this information with anyone at the school because everyone whom I have met has appeared genuinely shocked and upset by his tragic death.

“Indeed, mum and I were invited to a memorial service at the school last November, which was very well attended.

“I worry that whatever it was that was causing Richard concern was all in his mind.”

West London Coroner’s Court also heard that Mr Billing had lost £25,000 he had invested in a failed film company and had made a civil claim to get his money back.

Mrs Richardson’s statement said: “He would have felt strongly about it because he was very careful with his money. If he decided to put £25,000 into something and lost it, I could imagine that it would upset him.”

The amount would not have put him in debt however, as he had a “sizeable” estate, Mrs Richardson claimed.

The inquest also heard from friend Alison Morgan, who discovered his body, who said Mr Billing had been “preoccupied” after a recent Ofsted observation had gone badly.

But she added he had attended a school meeting soon after and told the headteacher he was looking forward to the upcoming term.

Miss Morgan said: “I am still absolutely stunned by this. I don’t think he was an impulsive person.”

Messages written by students in the school’s book of condolence for Mr Billing described him as “amazing” and “the funniest maths teacher I have ever had”.

Heathside School headteacher Anne Cullum said: “Mr Billing was a liked and respected member of staff who is greatly missed by both staff and students.”

Coroner Chinyere Inyama concluded: “There is no other reasonable explanation. Richard William Billing took his own life.”

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